Research ArticleAUTOIMMUNITY

Human blood Tfr cells are indicators of ongoing humoral activity not fully licensed with suppressive function

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Science Immunology  11 Aug 2017:
Vol. 2, Issue 14, eaan1487
DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.aan1487

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Suppressing Sjögren syndrome

T follicular regulatory (Tfr) cells regulate antibody production in the germinal center, yet individuals with the autoimmune disease Sjögren syndrome have increased numbers of circulating Tfr cells compared with healthy individuals. Fonseca et al. compared blood Tfr cells with tissue Tfr cells and found that blood Tfr cells were phenotypically distinct from their tissue counterparts. Moreover, blood Tfr cells did not preferentially suppress humoral responses and had a naïve-like phenotype. These cells were not thymically derived but were generated during germinal center responses, exiting the tissue to enter the blood. These data explain why increased number of blood Tfr cells does not correlate with increased suppression potential and suggest that, instead, increased numbers of blood Tfr cells indicate ongoing humoral activity.