Balancing Act

Science's STKE  17 Jul 2007:
Vol. 2007, Issue 395, pp. tw250
DOI: 10.1126/stke.3952007tw250

In the immune system, T cells are divided into various subsets according to their functions, both as mediators of protective immunity and as regulators of other immune cells. Mucida et al. now show that the vitamin A metabolite retinoic acid influences the balance between a major inflammatory and a regulatory phenotype of T cells. Under conditions that would normally favor the development of a recently described inflammatory T helper 17 cell, retinoic acid steered differentiation toward the regulatory phenotype. This ability to tip the balance between two opposing types of T cell response adds to the immune effects being attributed to retinoic acid.

D. Mucida, Y. Park, G. Kim, O. Turovskaya, I. Scott, M. Kronenberg, H. Cheroutre, Reciprocal TH17 and regulatory T cell differentiation mediated by retinoic acid. Science 317, 256-260 (2007). [Abstract] [Full Text]