Advantage of having regulatory T cells requires localized suppression of immune reactions

Koichi Saeki, Yoh Iwasa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The immune system of vertebrates may attack its own body and cause autoimmunity diseases. To prevent autoimmunity, regulatory T cells suppress the activity of the autoreactive effector T cells, but they also interrupt normal immune reactions against foreign antigens. In this paper, we discuss the advantage of having some regulatory T cells by considering the host's ability of coping with foreign antigens and the harm of autoimmunity. Assumptions are as follows: the immature T cells reactive to abundant self-antigens are eliminated, those reactive to rare self-antigen will become regulatory T cells, and those that fail to interact with the antigens to which they are reactive will become effector T cells. Some self-reactive immature T cells may fail to interact with their own target antigens during the limited training period, and will later become effector T cells, causing autoimmunity. Analysis suggests that, having some regulatory T cells can never be advantageous to the host, if activated regulatory T cells suppress effector T cells at any location of the body (global suppression). In contrast, producing some regulatory T cells can be beneficial, if the body is composed of many compartments and regulatory T cells suppress the immune reactions only within the same compartment (localized suppression). This requires regulatory T cells to stop circulating once they are activated by their own target self-antigens.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)392-401
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 7 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Applied Mathematics


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