Regulatory T (Treg) cells mediate homeostatic peripheral tolerance by suppressing autoreactive T cells. Failure of host antitumor immunity may be caused by exaggerated suppression of tumor-associated antigen-reactive lymphocytes mediated by Treg cells; however, definitive evidence that Treg cells have an immunopathological role in human cancer is lacking. Here we show, in detailed studies of CD4 +CD25+FOXP3+ Treg cells in 104 individuals affected with ovarian carcinoma, that human tumor Treg cells suppress tumor-specific T cell immunity and contribute to growth of human tumors in vivo. We also show that tumor Treg cells are associated with a high death hazard and reduced survival. Human Treg cells preferentially move to and accumulate in tumors and ascites, but rarely enter draining lymph nodes in later cancer stages. Tumor cells and microenvironmental macrophages produce the chemokine CCL22, which mediates trafficking of T reg cells to the tumor. This specific recruitment of Treg cells represents a mechanism by which tumors may foster immune privilege. Thus, blocking Treg cell migration or function may help to defeat human cancer.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology