The Rise and Fall...and Rise...of T Suppressors

Regulatory T cells (Tregs) have become a wildly popular field of study. The ability of these cells to suppress immune responses has garnered attention in autoimmunity, cancer, and inflammation studies. But, did you know that Treg studies actually originated back in 1969? Dr. Richard Gershon and Nishizuka and Sakakura (in separate labs) nearly simultaneously identified what they believed to be a "T suppressor" population. Gershon found that spleen cells of tolerized animals could suppress antibody responses to sheep red blood cells. Nishizuka and Sakakura had found that mice thymectomized on day 3 developed severe autoimmune disease. They believed, then, that a suppressive population must emigrate from the thymus and that this suppressive group limits possible autoimmunity (for more details, click here).
Dr. William T. Golde
Supervisory Scientist, USDA
But, as people began to try to phenotype T suppressors, they encountered trouble. As detailed below, they could not find products or phenotypic markers (like CD25 and Foxp3) for T suppressors. T suppressors soon became a four letter word in academia and quietly fell out of favor. It wasn't until Sakaguchi noted CD25 as a potential marker that a renaissance in suppressive studies began. Rebranded as "Tregs", this cell type has come back into the public eye and been a major area of focus.
In order to gain an appreciation for the foundation T suppressors laid for Tregs, we reached out to Drs. William Golde and Douglas Green. William Golde was a lab technician with Dr. Gershon (who passed away in 1983) and is currently a supervisory scientist with the USDA. The podcast below is our interview with Dr. Golde.
Listen to the podcast here.
In next week's blog, we'll share the interview with Douglas Green, a graduate student of Dr. Gershon's now serving as the Chair of Immunology at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Learn more about Regulatory T cells:

Regulatory T-cells Interactive Pathway
T regulatory cells webpage
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