Treating autoimmune disease by targeting CD8+ T suppressor cells

Christine Konya, Jorg J. Goronzy, Cornelia M. Weyand

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Current treatments for autoimmune disease are hampered by the non-specificity of immunomodulatory interventions, having to accept broad suppression of immunoresponsiveness with potentially serious side effects, such as infection or malignancy. The development of antigen-specific approaches, downregulating pathogenic immune responses while maintaining protective immunity, would be a major step forward. One possible approach involves the targeting of physiological regulatory mechanisms, such as inhibitory CD8 T cells that are now recognized to fine-tune many aspects of immune responses. CD8 T suppressor (Ts) cells may directly inhibit other T cells or condition antigen-presenting cells in such a way that immune amplification steps are dampened. The promise of CD8 Ts cells lies in their potential to disrupt host-injurious immune responses in a targeted fashion. For therapeutic purposes, such CD8 Ts cells could either be generated in vitro and transferred into the host or their numbers and activity could be modulated by treating the patient with established or novel immunomodulators. Emerging evidence shows that several subsets of CD8 Ts cells exist. While there is still considerable uncertainty about the molecular mechanisms through which CD8 Ts cells can reset immune responses to protect the host, their potential diagnostic and therapeutic use is intriguing and has generated renewed interest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)951-965
Number of pages15
JournalExpert Opinion on Biological Therapy
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2009


  • Autoimmune disease
  • T cells
  • T suppressor cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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