Serum IL10 and circulating CD4(+) CD25(high) regulatory T cell numbers as predictors of clinical outcome and survival in patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma

Head Neck. 2011 Mar;33(3):415-23. doi: 10.1002/hed.21464.


Background: Patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) commonly have an imbalance in T helper (Th)1/Th2-type cytokines and elevated levels of CD4(+) CD25(high) regulatory T cells (Treg). Here, we investigated the association of circulating interleukin (IL)10, IL12, and Treg-cells with clinical outcome in patients with HNSCC.

Methods: Serum cytokine levels were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in patients' pretreatment (n = 107) and 4 to 6 weeks posttreatment (n = 43), and in nontumor controls (n = 40). Treg-cell levels were determined by flow cytometry.

Results: IL10 detectability was significantly higher in patients than controls (p = .001). Pretreatment IL10 levels in all anatomical subsites, except the oral cavity, were significantly elevated in stages III/IV, N+ patients, and in T3/4-tumors (p = .005, .037, and .001, respectively). The detectability of IL10 significantly correlated with poorer survival after a maximum follow-up of 36 months. Treg-cell levels did not correlate with any clinical parameters.

Conclusion: IL10 is a potential independent factor in predicting a poor clinical outcome in newly presenting tumors of laryngeal and pharyngeal origin. The role of circulating Treg-cells as predictors of clinical outcome requires further investigation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / immunology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / blood*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / immunology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / mortality*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cohort Studies
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / blood*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / immunology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-10 / blood*
  • Interleukin-10 / immunology
  • Interleukin-2 Receptor alpha Subunit / immunology
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / pathology
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Survival Analysis
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Interleukin-2 Receptor alpha Subunit
  • Interleukin-10