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The role of regulatory T cells in ovarian cancer
  1. J. Dietl*,
  2. J. B. Engel* and
  3. J. Wischhusen
  1. *Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and
  2. IZKF, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Jörg Wischhusen, PhD, IZKF Junior Research Group “tumor progression and immune escape,” Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Würzburg, Josef-Schneider-Strasse 4, D-97080 Würzburg, Germany. Email: wischhusen_j{at}


Regulatory T cells (Treg), also termed suppressor T cells, control self-reactive T cells in the periphery, thereby conferring protection against immunologic self-destruction. While Treg are essential for the prevention of autoimmunity, they also inhibit immune responses against tumor antigens. This is corroborated by an increased mortality rate associated with the presence of a high number of intratumoral Treg. Tumor infiltration by non-Treg, on the other hand, is predictive for a substantially longer patient survival. These clinical data suggest that ovarian cancer patients can spontaneously mount effective antitumor immune responses that are undermined by Treg-mediated tolerization. The present article reviews clinical and experimental findings on Treg in ovarian cancer, with special regard to potential therapeutic implications, which may result from the existing evidence.

  • immune escape
  • ovarian cancer
  • regulatory T cells
  • targeted therapy
  • tumor immunology

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