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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Baicalin, a natural compound, promotes regulatory T cell differentiation

Ji Yang1, Xue Yang2 and Ming Li1*

Author affiliations

1 Department of Dermatology, Zhongshan Hospital, Fudan University, Shanghai 200032, China

2 Division of Rheumatology, Huashan Hospital, Fudan University, Shanghai China

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Citation and License

BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012, 12:64  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-64

Published: 16 May 2012



CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ regulatory T (Treg) cells inhibit autoimmunity and protect against tissue injury. The development of these Treg cells is controlled by the regulator protein Foxp3, which can be enhanced by the in vitro activation of Foxp3 in the presence of transforming growth factor-beta. However, little is known about alternative methods, such as the use of natural products, for controlling Foxp3-mediated Treg cell differentiation.


HEK 293‚ÄČT cells were transfected with Foxp3 expression plasmid, and then treated with different compounds, Foxp3 mRNA expression was determined by real-time RT-PCR. CD4+CD25-T cells were stimulated with Baicalin, Foxp3 protein expression were analyzed by flow cytometry and confocal microscopy, the regulatory function of T cells stimulated with Baicalin was detected by the carboxyfluorescien succinimidyl ester.


We demonstrated that Baicalin, a compound isolated from the Chinese herb Huangqin, induced Foxp3 protein expression in cultured T cells, promoted Treg cell differentiation and regulatory activity. Our data also indicated that Baicalin restored Foxp3 expression following its initial interleukin-6-mediated inhibition and induced Foxp3 expression in vitro.


These data suggest that Baicalin may promote Treg cell differentiation and regulatory activity and may serve as a promising natural immunosuppressive compound for treating autoimmune inflammatory diseases.

Baicalin; Foxp3; Treg cells