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Neuro Oncol. 2012 May;14(5):584-95. doi: 10.1093/neuonc/nos014. Epub 2012 Mar 9.

Soluble factors secreted by glioblastoma cell lines facilitate recruitment, survival, and expansion of regulatory T cells: implications for immunotherapy.

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Brain Tumor Research Center, Department of Neurological Surgery, Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.


In patients with glioma, the tumor microenvironment can significantly impact pro-inflammatory immune cell functions. However, the mechanisms by which this occurs are poorly defined. Because immunosuppressive regulatory T cells (Treg) are over represented in the tumor microenvironment compared with peripheral blood, we hypothesized that the tumor may have an effect on Treg survival, migration, expansion, and/or induction of a regulatory phenotype from non-Treg conventional CD4+ T cells. We defined the impact of soluble factors produced by tumor cells on Treg from healthy patients in vitro to determine mechanisms by which gliomas influence T cell populations. We found that tumor-derived soluble factors allowed for preferential proliferation and increased chemotaxis of Treg, compared with conventional T cells, indicating that these mechanisms may contribute to the increased Treg in the tumor microenvironment. Conventional T cells also exhibited a significantly increased expression of pro-apoptotic transcripts in the presence of tumor-derived factors, indicating that survival of Treg in the tumor site is driven by exposure to soluble factors produced by the tumor. Together, these data suggest that tumor burden may induce increased Treg infiltration, proliferation, and survival, negating productive anti-tumor immune responses in patients treated with immunotherapies. Collectively, our data indicate that several mechanisms of Treg recruitment and retention in the tumor microenvironment exist and may need to be addressed to improve the specificity of immunotherapies seeking to eliminate Treg in patients with glioma.

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