Regulatory T cells induce activation rather than suppression of human basophils

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Science Immunology  25 May 2018:
Vol. 3, Issue 23, eaan0829
DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.aan0829

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Unexpected basophil activation

Basophils are granulocytes that exist at a relatively rare frequency in the blood but are critical mediators of allergic and inflammatory responses. Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are known to suppress the functions of different immune cells, and Sharma et al. now examine how Tregs regulate basophil functions. Unexpectedly, they observed that resting human basophils are activated and not suppressed in the presence of Tregs. These activated basophils express activation markers (CD69, CD203c, and CD13) and release IL-4, IL-8, and IL-13. Treg-induced activation of basophils involves IL-3 and STAT5 but was not contact-dependent. These results now describe an activating effect mediated by Tregs and provide insight into how basophils are regulated.