The role of regulatory T cells in ovarian cancer

Int J Gynecol Cancer. Jul-Aug 2007;17(4):764-70. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1438.2006.00861.x. Epub 2007 Feb 16.


Regulatory T cells (T(reg)), also termed suppressor T cells, control self-reactive T cells in the periphery, thereby conferring protection against immunologic self-destruction. While T(reg) 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 T(reg). Tumor infiltration by non-T(reg), 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 T(reg)-mediated tolerization. The present article reviews clinical and experimental findings on T(reg) in ovarian cancer, with special regard to potential therapeutic implications, which may result from the existing evidence.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*