T regulatory cells are markers of disease activity in multiple sclerosis patients

Dacia Dalla Libera, Diletta Di Mitri, Alessandra Bergami, Diego Centonze, Claudio Gasperini, Maria Grazia Grasso, Simona Galgani, Vittorio Martinelli, Giancarlo Comi, Carlo Avolio, Gianvito Martino, Giovanna Borsellino, Federica Sallusto, Luca Battistini, Roberto Furlan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


FoxP3+ Treg cells are believed to play a role in the occurrence of autoimmunity and in the determination of clinical recurrences. Contradictory reports are, however, available describing frequency and function of Treg cells during autoimmune diseases. We examined, by both polychromatic flow cytometry, and real-time RT-PCR, several Treg markers in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disease affecting the central nervous system. We found that Tregs, as defined by CD25, CD39, FoxP3, CTLA4, and GITR expression, were significantly decreased in stable MS patients as compared to healthy donors, but, surprisingly, restored to normal levels during an acute clinical attack. We conclude that Treg cells are not involved in causing clinical relapses, but rather react to inflammation in the attempt to restore homeostasis.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere21386
JournalPLoS One
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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