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Cancer Res. 2012 Sep 1;72(17):4351-60. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-12-0579. Epub 2012 Jul 12.

CXCR3+ T regulatory cells selectively accumulate in human ovarian carcinomas to limit type I immunity.

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Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, Institut de Cancérologie de l'Ouest, Nantes-Saint Herblain, France.


Antitumor type I T-cell responses involving IFN-γ production are critical to control cancer, but the efficacy of this response is limited by a variety of immunosuppressive mechanisms that promote tumoral immune escape. One critical mechanism involves the accumulation of FOXP3(+) T regulatory cells (Treg), a class of suppressive T cells that prevent excessive tissue destruction caused by unchecked immune responses. Recent studies have revealed that FOXP3(+) Treg include distinct subsets specifically controlling over the corresponding effector subset. In particular, CXCR3(+) Treg have been described as a subset specialized in the control of type I T-cell responses in vivo. Here, we show that CXCR3(+) Treg are highly enriched in human ovarian carcinomas, particularly in solid tumor masses, where they represent the majority of Treg. Tumor-associated CXCR3(+.) Treg coexpress T-bet but do not secrete IFN-γ ex vivo and suppress proliferation and IFN-γ secretion of T effectors. In addition, they coexpress Helios, suggesting that they originate from natural Treg. Finally, we show that the proportion of CXCR3(+) Treg at tumor sites is directly correlated with that of CXCR3(+) T effectors, consistent with expression of CXCR3 ligands. Together, our findings support the concept that natural CXCR3(+) T-bet(+) Treg selectively accumulate in ovarian tumors to control type I T-cell responses, resulting in the collateral limitation of efficient antitumor immunity.

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