Early life Aire

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Science  01 May 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6234, pp. 506-507
DOI: 10.1126/science.aab2998

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The immune system protects us from invading microbes but does not react with the constituents of our body. When this immunological unresponsiveness to self is broken, autoimmune diseases such as type I diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis may develop. To establish and maintain this self-tolerance, lymphocytes—in particular, T cells—are subjected to two essential processes during their development in the thymus: the elimination (negative selection) of self-reactive T cells, and the generation of regulatory T (Treg) cells. The latter are specialized for suppressing peripheral activation and expansion of those self-reactive T cells that have escaped elimination in the thymus. On page 589 of this issue, Yang et al. (1) show that a specific population of Treg cells produced particularly early in life are highly efficient in preventing autoimmune disease and sustaining stable self-tolerance.