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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Jan 11;102(2):419-24. Epub 2004 Dec 27.

Regulatory T cells suppress tumor-specific CD8 T cell cytotoxicity through TGF-beta signals in vivo.

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  • 1Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Cancer patients can harbor significant numbers of CD8 and CD4 T cells with specificities to tumor antigens (Ags). Yet, in most cases, such T cells fail to eradicate the tumor in vivo. Here, we investigated the interference of Ag-specific CD4(+)CD25(+) regulatory T cells (Treg) with the tumor-specific CD8 T cell immune response in vivo, by monitoring the homing, expansion, and effector function of both subsets in draining and nondraining lymph nodes. The results show that CD8 cells expand to the same extent and produce similar levels of IFN-gamma in the presence or absence of Ag-specific Treg. Nevertheless, these Treg abrogate CD8 T cell-mediated tumor rejection by specifically suppressing the cytotoxicity of expanded CD8 cells. The molecular mechanism of suppression involves TGF-beta because expression of a dominant-negative TGF-beta receptor by tumor-specific CD8 cells renders them resistant to suppression and is associated with tumor rejection and unimpaired cytotoxicity.

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