Regulatory T cells in renal disease

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The kidney is vulnerable to injury, both acute and chronic from a variety of immune and metabolic insults, all of which at least to some degree involve inflammation. Regulatory T cells modulate systemic autoimmune and allogenic responses in glomerulonephritis and transplantation. Intrarenal regulatory T cells (Tregs), including those recruited to the kidney, have suppressive effects on both adaptive and innate immune cells, and probably also intrinsic kidney cells. Evidence from autoimmune glomerulonephritis implicates antigen-specific Tregs in HLA-mediated dominant protection, while in several human renal diseases Tregs are abnormal in number or phenotype. Experimentally, Tregs can protect the kidney from injury in a variety of renal diseases. Mechanisms of Treg recruitment to the kidney include via the chemokine receptors CCR6 and CXCR3 and potentially, at least in innate injury TLR9. The effects of Tregs may be context dependent, with evidence for roles for immunoregulatory roles both for endogenous Tbet-expressing Tregs and STAT-3-expressing Tregs in experimental glomerulonephritis. Most experimental work and some of the ongoing human trials in renal transplantation have focussed on unfractionated thymically derived Tregs (tTregs). However, induced Tregs (iTregs), type 1 regulatory T (Tr1) cells and in particular antigen-specific Tregs also have therapeutic potential not only in renal transplantation, but also in other kidney diseases. The kidney is vulnerable to immune mediated injury. Regulated T cells can modulate the systemic autoimmune and allogenic responses in glomerulonephritis and transplantation. Furthermore, intrarenal regulatory T cells can effect suppression on immune and intrinsic kidney cells.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1004
Number of pages14
JournalClinical & Translational Immunology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • acute kidney injury
  • autoimmune renal disease
  • chronic kidney disease
  • glomerulonephritis
  • intrarenal regulatory T cells
  • transplantation

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