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Oncotarget. 2017 Aug 19;8(44):77110-77120. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.20363. eCollection 2017 Sep 29.

Targeting CXCR4 reverts the suppressive activity of T-regulatory cells in renal cancer.

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Functional Genomics, Istituto Nazionale per lo Studio e la Cura dei Tumori, Fondazione "G. Pascale"-IRCCS, 80131 Naples, Italy.
Uro-Gynecological Department, Istituto Nazionale per lo Studio e la Cura dei Tumori, Fondazione "G. Pascale"-IRCCS, 80131 Naples, Italy.
Department of Pharmacy, University of Naples Federico II, 80131 Naples, Italy.
Department of Hematology, Oncology and Molecular Medicine, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, 00161 Rome, Italy.
Urology Division, University Federico II, 80131 Naples, Italy.


With the intent to identify biomarkers in renal cell carcinoma (RCC) the functional status of T-regulatory cells (Tregs) was investigated in primary RCC. Tregs were isolated from tumoral-(TT), peritumoral tissue-(PT) and peripheral blood-(PB) of 42 primary RCC patients and function evaluated through effector T cells (Teff) proliferation, cytokines release and demethylation of Treg Specific Region (TSDR). The highest value of Tregs was detected in TT with the uppermost amount of effector-Tregs-(CD4+CD25hiFOXP3hiCD45RA-). PB-RCC Tregs efficiently suppress Teff proliferation compared to healthy donor (HD)-Tregs and, at the intrapatient evaluation, TT-derived Tregs were the most suppressive. Higher demethylation TSDR was detected in TT- and PB-RCC Tregs vs HD-Tregs (P <0,001). CXCR4 is highly expressed on Tregs, thus we wished to modulate Tregs function through CXCR4 inhibition. CXCR4 antagonism, elicited by a new peptidic antagonist, Peptide-R29, efficiently reversed Tregs suppression of Teff proliferation. Thus Tregs functional evaluation precisely reflects Tregs status and may be a reliable biomarker of tumoral immune response. In addition, treatment with CXCR4 antagonist, impairing Tregs function, could improve the anticancer immune response, in combination with conventional therapy and/or immunotherapy such as checkpoints inhibitors.


CXCR4; T regulatory cells; immune suppression; renal cell carcinoma; tumor microenvironment

Conflict of interest statement

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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