Regulatory T cells, tumour immunity and immunotherapy

Nat Rev Immunol. 2006 Apr;6(4):295-307. doi: 10.1038/nri1806.


Tumours express a range of antigens, including self-antigens. Regulatory T cells are crucial for maintaining T-cell tolerance to self-antigens. Regulatory T cells are thought to dampen T-cell immunity to tumour-associated antigens and to be the main obstacle tempering successful immunotherapy and active vaccination. In this Review, I consider the nature and characteristics of regulatory T cells in the tumour microenvironment and their potential multiple suppressive mechanisms. Strategies for therapeutic targeting of regulatory T cells and the effect of regulatory T cells on current immunotherapeutic and vaccine regimens are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies / pharmacology
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Mice
  • Models, Immunological
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / drug effects
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*


  • Antibodies
  • Antigens, Neoplasm