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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Dec 26;104(52):20884-9. Epub 2007 Dec 18.

Circulating tumor antigen-specific regulatory T cells in patients with metastatic melanoma.

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  • 1Baylor Institute for Immunology Research and Baylor Research Institute, Baylor University, Dallas, TX 75204, USA.


Although it is accepted that regulatory T cells (T regs) contribute to cancer progression, most studies in the field consider nonantigen-specific suppression. Here, we show the presence of tumor antigen-specific CD4(+) T regs in the blood of patients with metastatic melanoma. These CD4(+) T regs recognize a broad range of tumor antigens, including gp100 and TRP1 (melanoma tissue differentiation antigens), NY-ESO-1 (cancer/testis antigen) and survivin (inhibitor of apoptosis protein (IAP) family antigen). These tumor antigen-specific T regs proliferate in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) cultures in response to specific 15-mer peptides, produce preferentially IL-10 and express high levels of FoxP3. They suppress autologous CD4(+)CD25(-) T cell responses in a cell contact-dependent manner and thus share properties of both naturally occurring regulatory T cells and type 1 regulatory T cells. Such tumor antigen-specific T regs were not detected in healthy individuals. These tumor antigen-specific T regs might thus represent another target for immunotherapy of metastatic melanoma.

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