Targeting regulatory T cells

Target Oncol. 2012 Mar;7(1):15-28. doi: 10.1007/s11523-012-0208-y. Epub 2012 Feb 12.


Cancers express tumor-associated antigens that should elicit immune response to antagonize the tumor growth, but spontaneous immune rejection of established cancer is rare, suggesting an immunosuppressive environment hindering host antitumor immunity. Among the specific and active tumor-mediated mechanisms, CD4(+)CD25(high) T regulatory cells (Treg) are important mediators of active immune evasion in cancer. In this review, we will discuss Treg subpopulations and the mechanisms of their suppressive functions. Treg depletion improves endogenous antitumor immunity and the efficacy of active immunotherapy in animal models for cancer, suggesting that inhibiting Treg function could also improve the limited successes of human cancer immunotherapy. We will also discuss specific strategies for devising effective cancer immunotherapy targeting Treg.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppression
  • Lymphocyte Depletion / methods*
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*
  • Tumor Escape
  • Tumor Microenvironment