Review Article

Regulatory T cells in ischemic stroke

Hong-yun Wang1, Jun-rui Ye1, Li-yuan Cui1, Shi-feng Chu1, Nai-hong Chen1
1 State Key Laboratory of Bioactive Substances and Functions of Natural Medicines, Institute of Materia Medica and Neuroscience Center, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing 100050, China
Correspondence to: Shi-feng Chu:, Nai-hong Chen:,
DOI: 10.1038/s41401-021-00641-4
Received: 23 November 2020
Accepted: 8 March 2021
Advance online: 26 March 2021


Recent evidence shows that when ischemic stroke (IS) occurs, the BBB would be destructed, thereby promoting the immune cells to migrate into the brain, suggesting that the immune responses can play a vital role in the pathology of IS. As an essential subpopulation of immunosuppressive T cells, regulatory T (Treg) cells are involved in maintaining immune homeostasis and suppressing immune responses in the pathophysiological conditions of IS. During the past decades, the regulatory role of Treg cells has attracted the interest of numerous researchers. However, whether they are beneficial or detrimental to the outcomes of IS remains controversial. Moreover, Treg cells exert distinctive effects in the different stages of IS. Therefore, it is urgent to elucidate how Treg cells modulate the immune responses induced by IS. In this review, we describe how Treg cells fluctuate and play a role in the regulation of immune responses after IS in both experimental animals and humans, and summarize their biological functions and mechanisms in both CNS and periphery. We also discuss how Treg cells participate in poststroke inflammation and immunodepression and the potential of Treg cells as a novel therapeutic approach.
Keywords: regulatory T cells; ischemic stroke; inflammation; crosstalk; stroke-induced immunodepression; ischemic stroke therapy

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