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Frequency over function : raised levels of CD127low/- regulatory T cells in the tumour microenvironment compared with the periphery of head and neck cancer patients

Drennan, Samantha; Stafford, Nicholas D.; Greenman, John; Green, Victoria L.


Samantha Drennan

Nicholas D. Stafford


Objective: Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are known to infiltrate the tumour microenvironment of many cancers, including head and neck malignancies, and are thought to contribute to the host's impaired anti-tumour immune response. However, their immunosuppressive function remains poorly understood within the tumour microenvironment and this study aimed to address this. Methods: The frequency and suppressive capacity of two CD4⁺CD127low/- Treg populations, separated on the basis of different levels of CD25 expression (CD25inter and CD25high), from the tumour/node microenvironment and peripheral circulation of newly-presenting head and neck squamous cell carcinoma patients (n=19), were assessed using multicolour flow cytometry. Results: The proportion of Tregs (CD4⁺CD25high/ⁱinterCD127low/-) in the tumour/node microenvironment was significantly elevated compared with the peripheral circulation (p<0.001) and similar percentages were present in both the primary tumour and metastatic lymph node. The percentage of suppression induced by Tregs isolated from tumour associated nodes on the proliferation of nodal effector T cells was similar to that of peripheral Tregs on peripheral effector T cells. However, when the suppressive activity of both nodal and peripheral Tregs was compared on the same peripheral effectors, peripheral Tregs suppressed proliferation to a greater extent. Conclusion: This work shows that the recruitment and percentages of tumour infiltrating Tregs are key factors in modulating the immune environment of head and neck tumours.


Drennan, S., Stafford, N. D., Greenman, J., & Green, V. L. (2014). Frequency over function : raised levels of CD127low/- regulatory T cells in the tumour microenvironment compared with the periphery of head and neck cancer patients. Journal of clinical & cellular immunology, 5(4), Article 241.

Acceptance Date Jul 23, 2014
Online Publication Date Jul 30, 2014
Publication Date Jul 30, 2014
Deposit Date Jan 7, 2016
Publicly Available Date Nov 23, 2017
Journal Journal of clinical & cellular immunology
Electronic ISSN 2155-9899
Publisher OMICS International
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 5
Issue 4
Article Number 241
Keywords CD127low/-, HNSCC, Regulatory T cells, Tumour infiltrating lymphocytes
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Copy of article first published in: Journal of clinical & cellular immunology, 2014, v.5, issue 4, article number 241.


Article.pdf (390 Kb)

Copyright Statement
© 2014 Drennan S, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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