TGF-β: a mobile purveyor of immune privilege

Authors

  • Sharon M. Wahl,

    Corresponding author
    1. Oral Infection and Immunity Branch, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.
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  • Jie Wen,

    1. Oral Infection and Immunity Branch, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.
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  • Niki Moutsopoulos

    1. Oral Infection and Immunity Branch, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.
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Sharon M. Wahl
Building 30, Room 320
30 Convent Dr. MSC 4352
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892-4352, USA
Tel.: 301-496-4178
Fax: 301-402-1064
E-mail: smwahl@dir.nidcr.nih.gov

Abstract

Summary:  Functionally barricaded immune responses or sites of immune privilege are no longer considered dependent on specific anatomical considerations, but rather, they can develop in any location where immunoregulatory cells congregate and express or release products capable of deviating the host response to foreign antigens. Among the pivotal molecules involved in orchestrating these ectopic sites of immune suppression is transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β), a secreted and cell-associated polypeptide with a multiplicity of actions in innate and adaptive immunity. While beneficial in initiating and controlling immune responses and maintaining immune homeostasis, immunosuppressive pathways mediated by TGF-β may obscure immune surveillance mechanisms, resulting in failure to recognize or respond adequately to self, foreign, or tumor-associated antigens. CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ regulatory T cells represent a dominant purveyor of TGF-β-mediated suppression and are found in infiltrating tumors and other sites of immune privilege, where they influence CD8+ T cells; CD4+ T-helper (Th)1, Th2, and Th17 cells; natural killer cells; and cells of myeloid lineage to choreograph and/or muck up host defense. Defining the cellular sources, mechanisms of action, and networking that distinguish the dynamic establishment of localized immune privilege is vital for developing strategic approaches to diminish or to embellish these tolerogenic events for therapeutic benefit.

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