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Keywords:

  • cellular therapy;
  • transplantation;
  • Tregs

Summary

Transplantation is a successful treatment for end-stage organ failure. Despite improvements in short-term outcome, long-term survival remains suboptimal because of the morbidity and mortality associated with long-term use of immunosuppression. There is, therefore, a pressing need to devise protocols that induce tolerance in order to minimize or completely withdraw immunosuppression in transplant recipients. In this review we will discuss how regulatory T cells (Tregs) came to be recognized as an attractive way to promote transplantation tolerance. We will summarize the preclinical data, supporting the importance of these cells in the induction and maintenance of immune tolerance and that provide the rationale for the isolation and expansion of these cells for cellular therapy. We will also describe the data from the first clinical trials, using Tregs to inhibit graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) after haematopoietic stem cell transplantation and will address both the challenges and opportunities in human Treg cell therapy.