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Curr Opin Immunol. 2004 Apr;16(2):157-62.

Immunoregulatory T cells in tumor immunity.

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Vaccine Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, 10 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892-1578, USA.


One mechanism of cancer immune evasion is the suppression of anti-tumor immunity by immunoregulatory T cells. Recent studies of these cells, especially CD4(+)CD25(+) T cells and NKT cells, have revealed molecular and cellular mechanisms of immunosuppression. Mouse studies have shown that either removing immunoregulatory T cells or blocking an immunoregulatory pathway induced by such cells unmasks natural tumor immunosurveillance and improves responses to cancer vaccines. Studies of the corresponding T-cell populations in human cancer patients support a similar role for immunoregulatory T cells in immunosuppression, implying that blocking immunoregulatory T-cell activity might improve the efficacy of tumor vaccines or the immunotherapy of cancer.

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