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Cancers 2011, 3(2), 1708-1731; doi:10.3390/cancers3021708

Regulatory T Cells in Colorectal Cancer: From Biology to Prognostic Relevance

Department of Oncology and Pathology, Immune and Gene Therapy Unit, Cancer Centre Karolinska, CCK R8:01, 17176 Stockholm, Sweden
Received: 4 February 2010 / Revised: 13 March 2011 / Accepted: 21 March 2011 / Published: 29 March 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Prognostic and Predictive Factors in Colorectal Cancer)
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Regulatory T cells (Tregs) were initially described as "suppressive" lymphocytes in the 1980s. However, it took almost 20 years until the concept of Treg-mediated immune control in its present form was finally established. Tregs are obligatory for self-tolerance and defects within their population lead to severe autoimmune disorders. On the other hand Tregs may promote tolerance for tumor antigens and even hamper efforts to overcome it. Intratumoral and systemic accumulation of Tregs has been observed in various types of cancer and is often linked to worse disease course and outcome. Increase of circulating Tregs, as well as their presence in mesenteric lymph nodes and tumor tissue of patients with colorectal cancer de facto suggests a strong involvement of Tregs in the antitumor control. This review will focus on the Treg biology in view of colorectal cancer, means of Treg accumulation and the controversies regarding their prognostic significance. In addition, a concise overview will be given on how Tregs and their function can be targeted in cancer patients in order to bolster an inherent immune response and/or increase the efficacy of immunotherapeutic approaches.
Keywords: regulatory T cells; colorectal cancer; prognostic marker; immune escape regulatory T cells; colorectal cancer; prognostic marker; immune escape

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Mougiakakos, D. Regulatory T Cells in Colorectal Cancer: From Biology to Prognostic Relevance. Cancers 2011, 3, 1708-1731.

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