The regulation of allergy and asthma


Dale T. Umetsu, MD, PhD
Division of Immunology, Children's Hospital Boston
Harvard Medical School
Karp Laboratories, Rm 10127
One Blackfan Circle
Boston, MA 02115
Tel.: +1 617 919 2439
Fax: +1 617 730 0528


Summary:  Allergic diseases and asthma are caused by exaggerated T-helper 2 (Th2)-biased immune responses in genetically susceptible individuals. Tolerance to allergens is a mechanism that normally prevents such responses, but the specific immunological events that mediate tolerance in this setting are poorly understood. A number of recent studies indicate that regulatory T cells (Tregs) play an important role in controlling such Th2-biased responses. Tregs involved in regulating allergy and asthma consist of a family of related types of T cells, including natural CD25+ Tregs as well as inducible forms of antigen-specific adaptive Tregs. Impaired expansion of natural and/or adaptive Tregs is hypothesized to lead to the development of allergy and asthma, and treatment to induce allergen-specific Tregs could provide curative therapies for these problems.