An association of circulating Tregs and Th17 cells producing IL-21 and IL-22 with the ROMA in ovarian cancer patients

Cytokine. 2020 Oct:134:155194. doi: 10.1016/j.cyto.2020.155194. Epub 2020 Jul 21.


The purpose of the present study was to assess the association of regulatory T cells (Tregs; CD4+ FOXP3+) and helper T lymphocytes (Th17) releasing interleukin (IL)-21 and IL-22, with the Risk of Ovarian Malignancy Algorithm (ROMA). Similar association was made with two additional tumour markers, human epididymis protein 4 (HE4) and carbohydrate antigen 125 (CA125) from patients serum. The presence of Tregs and Th17 was determined both in the peripheral blood and in the tissue of epithelial ovarian tumors. Mononuclear cells obtained from patient's peripheral blood (PBMCs) and from ovarian tissue were isolated by density gradient centrifugation. As a control group patients who had undergone surgery for infertility without ovarian pathology were selected. The percentage of Tregs and Th17 releasing IL-21 or IL-22 cells from both peripheral blood and tumor tissue was measured by flow cytometry. No differences in demographic parameters like body mass index, age, or gravidity were observed among the studied groups. However, an increased concentration of marker HE4 and value of ROMA was identified in individuals with ovarian cancer when compared with women with cystadenomas. Furthermore, a negative correlation between the ROMA value in the serum and Tregs from the peripheral blood of patients with cystadenoma ovarian tumors was detected. The presented work documents, for the first time, the negative association between peripheral blood Tregs and ROMA evaluation based on the tumour markers present in the serum of women with ovarian cystadenoma. Such an effect might result from the negative impact of Tregs on the inflammation process and on tumorigenesis caused by the persistent inflammation.

Keywords: HE-4; IL-21; IL-22; Ovarian cancer; ROMA; Th17 lymphocyte; Treg cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interleukins / biosynthesis*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*
  • Th17 Cells / immunology*


  • Interleukins
  • interleukin-21
  • interleukin-22