Written by William Branchett
Edited by Judith Secklehner and Caroline Anderson
The immune system has a huge capacity for destruction which, if unrestrained, can cause collateral damage to host tissue. Immune responses must therefore have ‘off’ switches to limit their magnitude and avoid inflammatory disease. Conversely, pathogens and tumours can hijack these mechanisms of immune regulation to favour their own survival. Understanding of immune regulation may therefore allow the design of drugs to manipulate overly exuberant or insufficient immune responses.
Transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) is a multi-functional cytokine that can dampen immune responses, in part by suppressing the pro-inflammatory activity of effector CD4+ T cells (Teffs).