Suppressor T cells and the immune response to tumors

Crit Rev Immunol. 1984;4(4):335-79.


In this paper we have attempted to define the role of suppressor T cells in many well-defined murine tumor systems. We have knowingly omitted a blocking antibodies, suppressor B cells as mediators of tumor immunosuppression in various murine tumor systems; these have been well reviewed elsewhere. Also, we have focused on the importance of two different types of antigen-presenting cells in the induction and suppression of cell-mediated immunity and on some of the different modalities employed to inhibit Ts function. Finally, we have discussed the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and the possible role of a defective helper pathway and enhanced suppressor pathway in its pathogenesis. We and others believe that the suppressor pathway is preferentially activated by tumor antigen(s) in the cases of many immunogenic murine tumors--possibly due to the release of tumor antigen(s) from tumor cells, their subsequent trafficking to specific areas of the spleen and other organs, and, ultimately, their presentation by certain APC to Ts. Ts may then act directly upon helper Lyt 1+2- T cells as these cells interact with tumor antigen(s) on I-A+ APC. Alternatively, if the effector pathway were somehow impaired--e.g., by ultraviolet radiation or a virus--then the suppressor pathway may be activated in an unregulated manner, often to the detriment of the host. Biochemical characterization of the tumor antigens that stimulate Ts generation and, presumably, tumor growth and definitive documentation of a role of APC in the processing and presentation of these tumor antigens to Ts need to be done. Then selective stimulation of the effector immune response, along with inhibition of the suppressor response, to tumor antigens with drugs, monoclonal antibodies, and soluble mediators or their analogues may be possible in the near future.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Neoplasm / biosynthesis
  • Antigens, Ly / analysis
  • Cyclophosphamide / pharmacology
  • H-2 Antigens / immunology
  • Hemophilia A / immunology
  • Homosexuality
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance* / drug effects
  • Immunity, Cellular*
  • Mice
  • Multiple Myeloma / immunology
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Sex Work
  • Spleen / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Neoplasm
  • Antigens, Ly
  • H-2 Antigens
  • Cyclophosphamide