Adoptive transfer in animal models clearly indicate an essential role of CD4+ CD25+ FOXP3+ regulatory T (Treg) cells in prevention and treatment of autoimmune and graft-versus-host disease. Thus, Treg cell therapies and development of drugs that specifically enhance Treg cell function and development represent promising tools to establish dominant tolerance. So far, lack of specific markers to differentiate human Treg cells from activated CD4+ CD25+ effector T cells, which also express FOXP3 at different levels, hampered such an approach. Recent identification of the orphan receptor glycoprotein-A repetitions predominant (GARP or LRRC32) as Treg cell-specific key molecule that dominantly controls FOXP3 via a positive feedback loop opens up new perspectives for molecular and cellular therapies. This brief review focuses on the role of GARP as a safeguard of a complex regulatory network of human Treg cells and its implications for regulatory T cell therapies in autoimmunity and graft-versus-host disease.

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