Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are immune cells that function to regulate the immune system in order to prevent autoimmune disease. They do this by sustaining immune tolerance to the body’s own cells and antigens. Tregs are known to have interleukin 2 receptors (IL-2R), and their functions depend on interleukin 2 (IL-2), a cytokine that is released by T helper cells and act on cytotoxic T cells.
Researchers of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center identified the role that Treg control may play in combating autoimmunity and the development of cancers of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. In experimental mice that are genetically susceptible to cancer of the small intestine, activation of IL-2R was found to decrease cytotoxic T cell activity. They found that IL-2R deprives cytotoxic T cells of IL-2 leading to suppression of their activity. This is important since chronic inflammation promoted by cytotoxic T cells is a main factor in the development of GI cancers.
The data suggests that Tregs’ effects on cytotoxic T cells have two roles, 1) preventing cancer by restricting precancerous cell development and 2) promoting growth of later stage cancer. Given these observations, the researchers concluded that it may be possible to target Tregs with IL-2 to protect against GI cancer or autoimmune development. This dual role of Tregs and the essential role of IL-2R in these Treg functions can serve as important targets for immunotherapies for GI cancer and autoimmunity.
Targeted Treg control via IL-2R manipulation may represent an approach to immunotherapy. If Tregs are provided IL-2 in a targeted manner, this may allow cytotoxic T cells to act on tumor cells. However, if Tregs are targeted in a different manner, this may treat various autoimmune and inflammatory diseases including, but not limited to, those of the GI tract. Further work by the researchers will involve uncovering how to achieve effective Treg targeting with IL-2.
At HemaCare, we have a variety of fully-customizable cytotoxic T cells for researchers to choose from to further science. Order yours today or call 877-397-3087.
"IL-2R Protein May Affect Capacities Of The Immune System". IBD News Today. N.p., 2016. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.