The aim of this study was to investigate the prognostic value of chemokine receptor CCR7 expression and intratumoral FOXP3(+) regulatory T cells (Tregs) in gastric cancer. CCR7(+) tumor cells and FOXP3(+) Tregs were assessed by immunohistochemistry in tissue microarrays containing gastric cancer from 133 patients. Prognostic effects of low or high CCR7 and FOXP3 expression were evaluated by Cox regression and Kaplan-Meier analysis, as well as the correlation between CCR7 positive score and intratumoral FOXP3(+) cell number in a longitudinal assessment. The analysis showed that the high expression levels of CCR7 and FOXP3 were detected in 69.9% and 65.4% of cases, respectively. High CCR7 expression in gastric cancer cells was significantly associated with poor overall survival (OS) (P = 0.010) and lymph node metastasis (P = 0.009), and was an independent factor for worse OS (P = 0.023) by multivariate analysis. High numbers of intratumoral FOXP3(+) Tregs significantly correlated with shorter OS (P = 0.021) and lymph node metastasis (P = 0.024), and was also an independent factor for adverse OS (P = 0.035). Furthermore, there was a significantly positive correlation between CCR7 positive score and intratumoral FOXP3(+) cell number (r = 0.949, P<0.001). These results revealed that CCR7 expression in gastric cancer cells and intratumoral FOXP3(+) Tregs could be considered as a co-indicator of clinical prognosis of gastric cancer.
CCL21 is known to attract dendritic cells (DCs) and T cells that may reverse tumor-mediated immune suppression. The massive infiltration of tumors by regulatory T cells (Tregs) prevents the development of a successful helper immune response. In this study, we investigated whether elimination of CD4(+) CD25(+) Tregs in the tumor microenvironment using anti-CD25 monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) was capable of enhancing CCL21-mediated antitumor immunity in a mouse hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) model. We found that CCL21 in combination with anti-CD25 mAbs (PC61) resulted in improved antitumor efficacy and prolonged survival, not only inhibited tumor angiogenesis and cell proliferation, but also led to significant increases in the frequency of CD4(+), CD8(+) T cells and CD11c(+) DCs within the tumor, coincident with marked induction of tumor-specific CD8(+) cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) at the local tumor site. The intratumoral immune responses were accompanied by the enhanced elaboration of IL-12 and IFN-?, but reduced release of the immunosuppressive mediators IL-10 and TGF-?1. The results indicated that depletion of Tregs in the tumor microenvironment could enhance CCL21-mediated antitumor immunity, and CCL21 combined with anti-CD25 mAbs may be a more effective immunotherapy to promote tumor rejection.
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