FOXP3 subcellular localization predicts recurrence in oral squamous cell carcinoma


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Forkhead box protein P3 (FOXP3) expression in tumor infiltrating CD4(+)T cells is generally associated with an intrinsic capacity to suppress tumor immunity. Based on this notion, different studies have evaluated the prognostic value of this maker in cancer but contradictory results have been found. Indeed, even within the same cancer population, the presence of CD4(+)FOXP3(+)T cells has been associated,with either a poor or a good prognosis, or no correlation has beenfound. Here, we demonstrate,in patients with oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC), that what really represents a prognostic parameter is not the overall expression of FOXP3 but its intracellular localization.While overallFOXP3 expression in tumor infiltrating CD4(+)T cells does not correlate with tumor recurrence, its intracellular localization within the CD4 cells does: nuclear FOXP3 (nFOXP3) is associated with tumor recurrence within 3 years, while cytoplasmicFOXP3 (cFOXP3) is associated with a lower likelihood of recurrence. Thus, we propose elevated levels of the cFOXP3/nFOXP3 ratio within tumor infiltrating CD4(+) T cells as a predictor of OSCC recurrence.



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