The ratios of CD8+ T cells to CD4+CD25+ FOXP3+ and FOXP3- T cells correlate with poor clinical outcome in human serous ovarian cancer

Claudia C. Preston, Matthew J. Maurer, Ann L. Oberg, Daniel W. Visscher, Kimberly R. Kalli, Lynn C. Hartmann, Ellen L. Goode, Keith L. Knutson

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115 Scopus citations


Ovarian cancer is an immune reactive malignancy with a complex immune suppressive network that blunts successful immune eradication. This suppressive microenvironment may be mediated by recruitment or induction of CD4+ regulatory T cells (Tregs). Our study sought to investigate the association of tumor-infiltrating CD4+CD25+FOXP3+ Tregs, and other immune factors, with clinical outcome in serous ovarian cancer patients. We performed immunofluorescence and quantification of intraepithelial tumor-infiltrating triple positive Tregs (CD4+CD25 +FOXP3+), as well as CD4+CD25 +FOXP3-, CD3+ and CD8+ T cells in tumor specimens from 52 patients with high stage serous ovarian carcinoma. Thirty-one of the patients had good survival (i.e. > 60 months) and 21 had poor survival of < 18 months. Total cell counts as well as cell ratios were compared among these two outcome groups. The total numbers of CD4 +CD25+FOXP3+ Tregs, CD4+CD25 +FOXP3-, CD3+ and CD8+ cells were not significantly different between the groups. However, higher ratios of CD8+/CD4+CD25+FOXP3+ Treg, CD8 +/CD4+ and CD8/CD4+CD25+FOXP3- cells were seen in the good outcome group when compared to the patients with poor outcome. These data show for the first time that the ratios of CD8+ to both CD4 +CD25+FOXP3+ Tregs and CD4+CD25 +FOXP3- T cells are associated with disease outcome in ovarian cancer. The association being apparent in ratios rather than absolute count of T cells suggests that the effector/suppressor ratio may be a more important indicator of outcome than individual cell count. Thus, immunotherapy strategies that modify the ratio of CD4+CD25+FOXP3 + Tregs or CD4+CD25+FOXP3- T cells to CD8+ effector cells may be useful in improving outcomes in ovarian cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere80063
JournalPloS one
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 14 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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