IL-2 family of cytokines in T regulatory cell development and homeostasis

Thomas R. Malek, Aixin Yu, Linjian Zhu, Takaji Matsutani, Dennis Adeegbe, Allison L. Bayer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Introduction: Interleukin 2 (IL-2) induces an essential signal for T regulatory (Treg) cells. Without a functional IL-2R, only immature CD4 + Foxp3low CD25neg T cells develop, and these cells fail to suppress autoreactive T cells in the periphery. Discussion: IL-2 functions during Treg cell development by upregulating Foxp3 and CD25 and by increasing the number of thymic Treg cells. Upon exiting the thymus during neonatal life, IL-2 is responsible for rapid amplification of the number of Treg cells in peripheral lymph nodes to insure suppression of autoreactive T cells that escape negative selection, thereby maintaining tolerance. The homeostasis of Treg cells in mature immunocompetent mice also depends on IL-2. However, there is an alternative mechanism for Treg cells homeostasis that may represent a minor IL-2-independent pathway or the consequence of weak and very transient IL-2R signaling. Conclusion: Thus, IL-2 provides importance signals for Treg cell development and for their homeostasis in peripheral immune tissues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)635-639
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical Immunology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2008


  • Foxp3
  • IL-2R
  • IL-7R
  • Survival
  • Thymic development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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