Regulatory T cells: what role do they play in antitumor immunity in patients with head and neck cancer?

Head Neck. 2008 Feb;30(2):251-61. doi: 10.1002/hed.20739.


Advances in the treatment modalities for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) over the last 20 years involving surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy are not fully reflected in increases in the 5-year survival rates, mainly due to locoregional recurrences and to a lesser extent, distant metastasis. This can, in part, be attributed to the fact that HNSCC induces severe depression of a patient's immune system. Recent advances in understanding the complex host-tumor interactions have led to the identification of a distinct suppressor cell population known as regulatory T cells that play a crucial role in maintaining T-cell tolerance to self-antigens. Here, we present a critical review of our understanding of the involvement of regulatory T cells in controlling the T-cell immune response in tumor occurrence and progression in HNSCC with an emphasis on current and future immunotherapeutic approaches involving regulatory T cells.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmunity / immunology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / immunology*
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Disease Progression
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance / physiology
  • Lymph Nodes / immunology
  • Protein Transport / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / physiology*