Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is an Epstein-Barr virus-associated disease with high prevalence in Southern Chinese. Using multiparametric flow cytometry, we identified significant expansions of circulating naive and memory CD4+CD25 high T cells in 56 NPC patients compared with healthy age- and sex-matched controls. These were regulatory T cells (Treg), as they overexpressed Foxp3 and GITR, and demonstrated enhanced suppressive activities against autologous CD4+CD25- T-cell proliferation in functional studies on five patients. Abundant intraepithelial infiltrations of Treg with very high levels of Foxp3 expression and absence of CCR7 expression were also detected in five primary tumours. Our current study is the first to demonstrate an expansion of functional Treg in the circulation of NPC patients and the presence of infiltrating Treg in the tumour microenvironment. As Treg may play an important role in suppressing antitumour immunity, our findings provide critical insights for clinical management of NPC.
- antitumour immunity
- nasopharyngeal carcinoma
- tumour infiltrating lymphocytes