Regulatory T cells (Tregs) play an essential role in maintaining the homeostatic balance of immune responses. Asthma is an inflammatory condition of the airways that is driven by dysregulated immune responses toward normally innocuous antigens. Individuals with asthma have fewer and less functional Tregs, which may lead to uncontrolled effector cell responses and promote proasthmatic responses of T helper type 2, T helper 17, natural killer T, antigenpresenting, and B cells. Tregs have the capacity to either directly or indirectly suppress these responses. Hence, the induced expansion of functional Tregs in predisposed or individuals with asthma is a potential approach for the prevention and treatment of asthma. Infection by a number of micro-organisms has been associated with reduced prevalence of asthma, and many infectious agents have been shown to induce Tregs and reduce allergic airways disease in mouse models. The translation of the regulatory and therapeutic properties of infectious agents for use in asthma requires the identification of key modulatory components and the development and trial of effective immunoregulatory therapies. Further translational and clinical research is required for the induction of Tregs to be harnessed as a therapeutic strategy for asthma.
American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology Vol. 43, Issue 5, p. 511-519