Identification and characterization of Foxp3+ γδ T cells in mouse and human

Ning Kang, Long Tang, Xiaoyan Li, Dan Wu, Wenjing Li, Xingming Chen, Lianxian Cui, Denian Ba, Wei He

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

39 Citations (Scopus)


Regulatory T cells (Tregs) expressing TCRαβ play a critical role in the maintenance of the immune system homeostasis. Tregs express the cell surface markers CD4 and CD25 as well as the transcription factor Foxp3. Foxp3+CD4+CD25+TCRαβ + Tregs can be generated from mouse and human CD4+CD25- T cells in vitro via TGF-β induction. As growing evidences suggest that γδ T cells also have immunoregulatory function, we have attempted to identify and characterize Foxp3+ cells in mouse and human γδ T cells. We found that freshly isolated mouse splenic γδ T cells did not express Foxp3. When mouse splenocytes were stimulated with anti-TCRγδ in the presence of TGF-β, a population of Foxp3+ γδ T cells appeared, in most of which expressed CD25 as well. Compared with CD25- γδ T cells, TGF-β induced CD25 γδ T cells not only expressed Foxp3, but also had increased TGF-β and GITR expression. Furthermore, the TGF-β induced γδ T cells mediated a potent immunosuppressive effect on anti-CD3 stimulated T cell activation and proliferation. In contrast, although a small fraction of human peripheral blood and tumor infiltrating γδ T cells expressed Foxp3, similar culture condition with anti-TCRγδ plus TGF-β failed to generate functional human Foxp3+ γδ T cells. In conclusion, our results suggest that mouse splenic Foxp3+ γδ T cells with suppressive function can be induced by TCR and TGF-β costimulation, whereas functional human Foxp3+ γδ T cells in peripheral blood could not be generated under the same condition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-113
Number of pages9
JournalImmunology Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2009
Externally publishedYes



  • γδ T cells
  • Foxp3
  • Immunoregulation
  • TGF-β

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy

Cite this

Kang, N., Tang, L., Li, X., Wu, D., Li, W., Chen, X., Cui, L., Ba, D., & He, W. (2009). Identification and characterization of Foxp3+ γδ T cells in mouse and human. Immunology Letters, 125(2), 105-113.