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The Association of Peripheral Blood Regulatory T-Cell Concentrations With Epithelial Ovarian Cancer: A Brief Report
  1. Rikki A. Cannioto, PhD, EdD,
  2. Lara E. Sucheston-Campbell, PhD,
  3. Shalaka Hampras, PhD,
  4. Ellen L. Goode, PhD,
  5. Keith Knutson, PhD,
  6. Roberta Ness, MD,
  7. Francesmary Modugno, PhD,
  8. Paul K. Wallace, PhD,
  9. J. Brian Szender, MD,
  10. Paul Mayor, MD,
  11. Chi-Chen Hong, PhD,
  12. Janine M. Joseph, MBA, MS,
  13. Grace Friel, MA,
  14. Warren Davis, PhD,
  15. Mary Nesline,
  16. Kevin H. Eng, PhD,
  17. Robert P. Edwards, MD,
  18. Bridget Kruszka, MS,
  19. Kristina Schmitt, BS,
  20. Kunle Odunsi, MD and
  21. Kirsten B. Moysich, PhD
  1. * Department of Cancer Prevention and Control, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, New York;
  2. Department of Cancer Epidemiology, Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, Florida;
  3. Division of Epidemiology, Department of Health Science Research, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Rochester;
  4. § School of Public Health, The University of Texas, Houston, Texas;
  5. Department of Epidemiology,
  6. Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, and
  7. # Women’s Cancer Research Program, Magee-Womens Research Institute and University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania;
  8. ** Department of Flow and Image Cytometry,
  9. †† Department of Gynecological Oncology,
  10. ‡‡ Center for Personalized Medicine, and
  11. §§ Department of Biostatistics & Bioinformatics, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, New York; and
  12. ‖Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences and Ovarian Cancer Center of Excellence, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Kirsten B. Moysich, PhD, Department of Cancer Prevention and Control, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Elm and Carlton Streets, Buffalo, NY 14263. E-mail: Kirsten.moysich{at}


Objective There is a mounting body of evidence demonstrating higher percentages of regulatory T (Treg) cells in the peripheral blood of patients with cancer in comparison to healthy controls, but there is a paucity of epidemiological literature characterizing circulating Treg cells among patients with epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC). To investigate the role of peripheral Treg cells in ovarian neoplasms, we conducted a case–control study to characterize circulating concentrations of Treg cells among patients with EOC, women with benign ovarian conditions, and healthy controls without a history of cancer.

Materials and Methods Participants were identified for inclusion due to their participation in the Data Bank and BioRepository program at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY. Patients included 71 women with a primary diagnosis of EOC and 195 women with a diagnosis of benign ovarian conditions. Controls included 101 age- and race-matched women without a history of cancer. Nonfasting, pretreatment peripheral blood levels of CD3+CD4+CD25+FOXP3+ Treg cells were measured using flow cytometric analyses and expressed as a percentage of total CD3+ cells and as a percentage of total CD3+CD4+ cells.

Results Compared to healthy controls and women with benign ovarian conditions, patients with EOC had significantly higher frequency of Treg cells (P < 0.04). In multivariable logistic regression analyses using Treg frequency expressed as a percentage of CD+3 cells, we observed a significant positive association between Treg cell percentage and EOC risk, with each 1% increase associated with a 37% increased risk of EOC (odds ratio, 1.37; 95% confidence interval, 1.04–1.80). We observed a similar trend when Treg frequency was expressed as a percentage of CD3+CD+4 cells (odds ratio, 1.22; 95% confidence interval, 0.99–1.49).

Conclusions The current study provides support that peripheral Treg cell frequency is elevated in patients with EOC in comparison to women with benign ovarian conditions and healthy controls.

  • T-regulatory cells
  • Treg cells
  • Epithelial ovarian cancer

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  • The authors declare no conflicts of interest.