Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are an essential component of the cellular immune response, occupying a key role in maintaining immunological tolerance and present an attractive therapeutic target in a range of immunopathologies. Comprehensive analysis of the human Treg compartment has been restricted due to technical limitations. The advent of mass cytometry enables simultaneous assessment of vastly increased phenotypic parameters at single-cell resolution. In this study, we used mass cytometry to examine the complexity of human Tregs using an extensive panel of surface markers associated with Treg function and phenotype. We applied unsupervised clustering analysis, revealing 22 distinct subpopulations of Tregs, representing previously identified and novel subpopulations. Our data represent the most in-depth phenotypic description of the human Treg compartment at single-cell resolution and show a hitherto unrecognized degree of phenotypic complexity among cells of the regulatory lineage.
This work was supported by a Biomedical Research Centre School of Translational and Experimental Medicine early career award from the National Institutes for Health, United Kingdom, and Medical Research Council (MRC) Centre for Transplantation, King's College London, U.K.–MRC Grant MR/J006742/1. The research was supported by the National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre based at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London.
The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the National Health Service, the National Institute for Health Research, or the Department of Health.
The online version of this article contains supplemental material.
- Received March 25, 2015.
- Accepted July 1, 2015.
- Copyright © 2015 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.