Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are non-redundant mediators of immune tolerance that are critical to prevent autoimmune disease and promote an anti-inflammatory tissue environment. Many individuals experience chronic diseases and physiologic changes associated with aging requiring long-term medication. Unfortunately, adverse effects accompany every pharmacologic intervention and may affect overall outcomes. We focus on medications typically prescribed during the treatment of prevalent chronic diseases and disorders, including cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, and menopausal symptoms, that affect >200 million individuals in the United States. Increasing studies continue to report that treatment of patients with estrogen, metformin, statins, vitamin D, and tumor necrosis factor blockers are unintentionally modulating the Treg compartment. Effects of these medications likely comprise direct and/or indirect interaction with Tregs via other immune and parenchymal populations. Differing and sometimes opposing effects on the Treg compartment have been observed using the same medication. The length of treatment, dosing regimen and stage of disease, patient age, ethnicity, and sex may account for such findings and determine the specific signaling pathways affected by the medication. Enhancing the Treg compartment can skew the patient's immune system toward an anti-inflammatory phenotype and therefore could provide unanticipated benefit. Currently, multiple medicines prescribed to large numbers of patients influence the Treg compartment; however, how such effects affect their disease outcome and long-term health remains unclear.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine