Journal of Shanghai Jiao Tong University (Medical Science) ›› 2022, Vol. 42 ›› Issue (8): 1145-1150.doi: 10.3969/j.issn.1674-8115.2022.08.021

• Review • Previous Articles    

Research progress on the role of regulatory T cells in ocular surface diseases

A Tingxi(), SHAO Chunyi, FU Yao()   

  1. Department of Ophthalmology, Shanghai Ninth People's Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine; Shanghai Key Laboratory of Orbital Diseases and Ocular Oncology, Shanghai 200011, China
  • Received:2022-02-07 Accepted:2022-05-23 Online:2022-08-12 Published:2022-08-12
  • Contact: FU Yao;
  • Supported by:
    Shanghai Municipal Education Commission—Gaofeng Clinical Medicine Grant Support(20161421)


As the external barrier of the eyeball, the ocular surface tissue, composed of the cornea, the conjunctiva, the eyelids, the meibomian glands, and the lacrimal gland, is exposed to the environment. In addition to keeping the cornea smooth and wet, the ocular surface is equipped with immune cells and related factors, which are capable of fighting against pathogens through innate and adaptive immune responses and preventing unnecessary or excessive inflammatory reactions against autoantigens or harmless foreign antigens through several regulatory mechanisms. The disorder of immune regulation is at the core of many ocular surface diseases. As an important part of the ocular surface microenvironment, regulatory T cells (Treg cells) actively participate in the suppression of abnormal or excessive immune responses towards the auto, microbial and environmental antigens through various mechanisms, and play a key role in inducing immune tolerance and regulating immune balance. Functional and numerical defects of Treg cells can trigger disruption of the immune homeostasis, leading to or promoting the occurrence of ocular surface diseases. In recent years, more and more researchers are focusing on the role and related molecular mechanisms of Treg cells in the occurrence and development of ocular surface diseases. Some preclinical studies have shown that Treg cell-related immunotherapy has great therapeutic potential in ocular surface diseases. Therefore, this article reviews the biological functions of Treg cells and their roles in the ocular surface diseases, such as dry eye disease, allergic diseases, infectious diseases, corneal transplantation rejection, and tissue repair, and then discusses the promising application prospects of Treg cells therapy in the field.

Key words: regulatory T cell, ocular surface disease, immune regulation, inflammation, cell therapy

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