In English | En español
Questions About Cancer? 1-800-4-CANCER

Understanding Cancer Series

< Back to Main
  • Posted: 01/28/2005
  • Reviewed: 09/01/2006

Page Options

  • Print This Page
  • Print This Document
  • View Entire Document
  • Email This Document
  • View/Print PDF
  • View/Print PowerPoint

Slide 24


Regulatory T Cells

< Previous SectionNext Section >

Your immune system also has a braking mechanism, a checkpoint to prevent immune responses to self. Without this checkpoint, autoimmune disease could flourish. An additional type of immune cells--regulatory T cells--are these critical braking agents.

Researchers don't yet know exactly how regulatory T cells operate. Some think these T cells recognize and compete for the same antigens as those that activate helper and cytotoxic T cells, but that regulatory T cells zero in on a different epitope. Another possibility is that cytotoxic or helper T cells only multiply when regulatory T cells are absent.

Regulatory T cells have become important to researchers who are trying to increase the efficacy of vaccines for cancer and AIDS. In addition to increasing the antigenicity of the immunizing element, a better understanding of regulatory T cells will permit scientists to reduce the immune system's brake activity, which often limits the effectiveness of vaccines.

Regulatory T Cells