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Immunity. 2004 Jan;20(1):107-18.

Tumor-specific human CD4+ regulatory T cells and their ligands: implications for immunotherapy.

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The Center for Cell and Gene Therapy and Department of Immunology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Regulatory T cells play an important role in the maintenance of immunological self-tolerance by suppressing immune responses against autoimmune diseases and cancer. Little is known, however, about the nature of the physiological target antigens for CD4(+) regulatory T (Treg) cells. Here we report the identification of the LAGE1 protein as a ligand for tumor-specific CD4(+) Treg cell clones generated from the tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) of cancer patients. Phenotypic and functional analyses demonstrated that they were antigen-specific CD4(+) Treg cells expressing CD25 and GITR molecules and possessing suppressive activity on the proliferative response of naive CD4(+) T cells to anti-CD3 antibody stimulation. Ligand-specific activation and cell-cell contact were required for TIL102 Treg cells to exert suppressive activity on CD4(+) effector cells. These findings suggest that the presence of tumor-specific CD4(+) Treg cells at tumor sites may have a profound effect on the inhibition of T cell responses against cancer.

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