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The role of regulatory T cells in ovarian cancer

Authors

  • J. DIETL,

    1. *Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and †IZKF, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany
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  • J.B. ENGEL,

    1. *Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and †IZKF, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany
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  • J. WISCHHUSEN

    Corresponding author
    1. *Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and †IZKF, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany
      Jörg Wischhusen, PhD, IZKF Junior Research Group “tumor progression and immune escape,” Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Würzburg, Josef-Schneider-Strasse 4, D-97080 Würzburg, Germany. Email: wischhusen_j@klinik.uni-wuerzburg.de
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Jörg Wischhusen, PhD, IZKF Junior Research Group “tumor progression and immune escape,” Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Würzburg, Josef-Schneider-Strasse 4, D-97080 Würzburg, Germany. Email: wischhusen_j@klinik.uni-wuerzburg.de

Abstract

Regulatory T cells (Treg), also termed suppressor T cells, control self-reactive T cells in the periphery, thereby conferring protection against immunologic self-destruction. While Treg are essential for the prevention of autoimmunity, they also inhibit immune responses against tumor antigens. This is corroborated by an increased mortality rate associated with the presence of a high number of intratumoral Treg. Tumor infiltration by non-Treg, on the other hand, is predictive for a substantially longer patient survival. These clinical data suggest that ovarian cancer patients can spontaneously mount effective antitumor immune responses that are undermined by Treg-mediated tolerization. The present article reviews clinical and experimental findings on Treg in ovarian cancer, with special regard to potential therapeutic implications, which may result from the existing evidence.

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