Clinical and Translational Oncology

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 274–280 | Cite as

Analysis of regulatory T cells frequency in peripheral blood and tumor tissues in papillary thyroid carcinoma with and without Hashimoto’s thyroiditis

  • Y. Liu
  • X. Yun
  • M. GaoEmail author
  • Y. Yu
  • X. LiEmail author
Research Article



Regulatory T cells (Treg) suppress the immune reaction. The aim of the present study was to investigate the clinicopathologic significance and roles of Treg in papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) patients with and without Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.


Flow cytometry was used to detect the percentage of CD4+CD25+CD127low/− Treg among CD4+ T cells in peripheral blood. FoxP3+ Treg were detected by immunohistochemistry in the tumor tissues.


The percentage of CD4+CD25+CD127low/− Treg among CD4+ T cells was significantly higher in PTC patients than that in multinodular goiter (MNG) patients. There were large numbers of tumor-infiltrating FoxP3+ Treg in primary PTC and metastatic lymph nodes tissues; however, there was no FoxP3 expression in the MNG tissues. Higher percentage of Treg both in peripheral blood and tumor tissues was associated with extrathyroidal extension and lymph nodes metastasis. The percentage of CD4+CD25+CD127low/− Treg among CD4+ T cells in peripheral blood of PTC patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (HT) was significantly lower, whereas the infiltration of FoxP3+ Treg in tissues of PTC with HT tended to be increased.


We concluded that the percentage of Treg increased in peripheral blood as well as in the tumor tissues of PTC patients compared with that of MNG patients. The high percentage of Treg was associated with aggressiveness. There may be a compensatory expansion of Treg at the sites of inflammation in tissues of PTC with HT contributing to the immune response suppression.


Papillary thyroid carcinoma Regulatory T cells Tumor escape Hashimoto’s thyroiditis Tumor microenvironment 



We thank Dr. Baocun Sun for providing tissue materials and Dr. Xiubao Ren for his technical assistance. This work was supported in part by Grant from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31200574) and Tianjin Municipal Science and technology project (12JCQNJC07700).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Federación de Sociedades Españolas de Oncología (FESEO) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Head and Neck Tumor, Key Laboratory of Cancer Prevention and TherapyTianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital, National Clinical Research Center of CancerTianjinPeople’s Republic of China

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