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Anti-tumor immunity and autoimmunity: a balancing act of regulatory T cells

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Abstract

Regulatory T (Treg) cell activity has been observed in anti-tumor and autoimmunity since the 1970s. Functional and molecular characterization of Treg cells has been made possible by the recent association of cell markers, such as CD25, CTLA-4, GITR, and Foxp3 gene product, with immunoregulatory activity. Here the influence of Treg cells in both anti-tumor immunity and autoimmunity was measured in BALB/c mice. Depletion of CD4+CD25+ Treg cells with CD25 mAb resulted in mammary tumor regression and increased susceptibility to thyroiditis. This in vivo priming to both tumor-associated antigens and self-thyroglobulin attests to the presence of otherwise undetectable immune effectors which are under negative regulation. Modulation of Treg cells is a powerful strategy in cancer therapy, but may potentiate autoimmune complications. Murine models exhibiting breakable tolerance to tumor-associated antigens, such as ErbB-2 (HER-2/neu), and increased susceptibility to autoimmunity following Treg-cell depletion are being established to test new vaccination or therapeutic strategies involving Treg-cell modulation.

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Correspondence to Wei-Zen Wei.

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This article forms part of the Symposium in Writing “Inhibitors of immunosurveillance and anti-tumor immunity,” published in Vol. 53.

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Wei, WZ., Morris, G.P. & Kong, Yc.M. Anti-tumor immunity and autoimmunity: a balancing act of regulatory T cells. Cancer Immunol Immunother 53, 73–78 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00262-003-0444-1

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00262-003-0444-1

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