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Journal of Allergy
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 948901, 9 pages
Review Article

Regulatory T Cells and the Control of the Allergic Response

1Instituto de Medicina Molecular, Cellular Immunology Unit, Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de Lisboa, Avenida Professor Egas Moniz, 1649-028 Lisbon, Portugal
2Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Cellular Immunology Unit, 2781-901 Oeiras, Portugal

Received 16 June 2012; Accepted 28 August 2012

Academic Editor: Maria Leite-de-Moraes

Copyright © 2012 Ana Agua-Doce and Luis Graca. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The study of immune regulation and tolerance has been traditionally associated with self/nonself-discrimination. However, the finding that dominant tolerance, a model that puts in evidence the active role of regulatory T cells, can develop to nonself-antigens suggests that the imposition of tolerance can be context dependent. This paper reviews the emerging field of acquired immune tolerance to non-self antigens, with an emphasis on the different subsets of induced regulatory T cells that appear to specialize in specific functional niches. Such regulatory mechanisms are important in preventing the onset of allergic diseases in healthy individuals. In addition, it may be possible to take advantage of these immune regulatory mechanisms for the induction of tolerance in cases where pathological immune responses are generated to allergens occurring in nature, but also to other immunogens such as biological drugs developed for medical therapies.