Tregitope update: Mechanism of action parallels IVIg

Leslie P. Cousens, Ryan Tassone, Bruce D. Mazer, Vasanthi Ramachandiran, David W. Scott, Anne S. De Groot*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


In the course of screening immunoglobulin G (IgG) sequences for T cell epitopes, we identified novel Treg epitope peptides, now called Tregitopes, contained in the highly conserved framework regions of Fab and Fc. Tregitopes may provide one explanation for the expansion and stimulation of Treg cells following intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) therapy. Their distinguishing characteristics include in silico signatures that suggest high-affinity binding to multiple human HLA class II DR and conservation across IgG isotypes and mammalian species with only minor amino acid modifications. Tregitopes induce expansion of CD4+/CD25hi/FoxP3+ T cells and suppress immune responses to co-incubated antigens in vitro. By comparing the human IgG Tregitopes (hTregitopes 167 and 289, located in the IgG CH1 and CH2 domains) and Fab to murine sequences, we identified class II-restricted murine Tregitope homologs (mTregitopes). In vivo, mTregitopes suppress inflammation and reproducibly induce Tregs to expand. In vitro studies suggest that the Tregitope mechanism of action is to induce Tregs to respond, leading to production of regulatory signals, followed by modulation of dendritic cell phenotype. The identification of Treg epitopes in IgG suggests that additional Tregitopes may also be present in other autologous proteins; methods for identifying and validating such peptides are described here. The discovery of Tregitopes in IgG and other autologous proteins may lead to the development of new insights as to the role of Tregs in autoimmune diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)436-443
Number of pages8
JournalAutoimmunity Reviews
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Autoimmunity
  • IVIg
  • MHC
  • Tolerance
  • Treg
  • Tregitope


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