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Regulatory T cell memory


Memory for antigen is a defining feature of adaptive immunity. Antigen-specific lymphocyte populations show an increase in number and function after antigen encounter and more rapidly re-expand upon subsequent antigen exposure. Studies of immune memory have primarily focused on effector B cells and T cells with microbial specificity, using prime-challenge models of infection. However, recent work has also identified persistently expanded populations of antigen-specific regulatory T cells that protect against aberrant immune responses. In this Review, we consider the parallels between memory effector T cells and memory regulatory T cells, along with the functional implications of regulatory memory in autoimmunity, antimicrobial host defence and maternal-fetal tolerance. In addition, we discuss emerging evidence for regulatory T cell memory in humans and key unanswered questions in this rapidly evolving field.

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