Foxp3 expressing CD4+ CD25+ and CD8+CD28- T regulatory cells in the peripheral blood of patients with lung cancer and pleural mesothelioma

Hum Immunol. Jan-Feb 2006;67(1-2):1-12. doi: 10.1016/j.humimm.2005.11.005. Epub 2006 Mar 31.


The role of T regulatory (Treg) cells in human cancer has not yet been clarified. We assessed the presence and function of CD4+ and CD8+ Treg cell subsets in the peripheral blood of patients with lung cancer (LC) and pleural mesothelioma (PM). We found a low but significant increase in the number of CD4+ T cells with phenotype and functional features of Treg cells in LC patients compared to normal healthy controls (NHC). Furthermore, total CD4+ T cells from LC patients proliferated less than cells from controls, suggesting that the increase in the CD4+ Treg cell pool has functional importance. LC patients also showed an expansion of the CD8+CD28- T cell subset and these cells expressed Foxp3 mRNA, as recently observed in alloantigen-specific CD8+CD28- T suppressor cells. No variation of peripheral Treg cell subsets was found in patients with PM, a disease with a predominantly localized nature. However, the lack of correlation between cancer stage and the number or the function of peripheral Treg cells in LC patients refuted the hypothesis that these cells are involved in tumor spreading. A possible involvement of the peripheral Treg cell pool in cancer development and/or in inducing systemic immunosuppression in LC patients can be hypothesized.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • CD28 Antigens / analysis
  • CD4 Antigens / analysis
  • CD8 Antigens / analysis
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / classification
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Female
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance
  • Lung Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Male
  • Mesothelioma / immunology*
  • Mesothelioma / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Pleural Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Pleural Neoplasms / pathology
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2 / analysis
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / classification
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*


  • CD28 Antigens
  • CD4 Antigens
  • CD8 Antigens
  • FOXP3 protein, human
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2