Providence of the CD25+ KIR+ CD127- FOXP3- CD8+ T-cell subset determines the dynamics of tumor immune surveillance.Immunol Cell Biol 2018; 96(10):1035-1048IC
CD8+ T-regulatory (Treg) cells are emerging as crucial components of immune system. Previous studies have reported the presence of FOXP3+ CD8+ Treg cells, similar to CD4+ Tregs, in cancer patients which produce high levels of the immunosuppressive cytokines, IL10 and TGFβ. At an early stage of tumor development, we have identified a subset of FOXP3- CD8+ CD25+ KIR+ CD127- Treg-like cells, which are IFNγ+ . However, this early-induced CD8+ CD25+ CD127- T-cell subset is certainly distinct from the IFNγ+ CD8+ T-effector cells. These CD8+ CD25+ CD127- T cells express other FOXP3- CD8+ Treg cell signature markers, and can selectively suppress autoreactive HLA-E+ TFH cells as well as tumor-induced CD4+ Treg cells. In contrast to FOXP3+ CD8+ Tregs, this subset does not inhibit effector T-cell proliferation or their functions as they are HLA-E- . Adoptive transfer of this early-CD8+ Treg-like subset restrained tumor growth and inhibited CD4+ Treg generation that impedes the immune surveillance and impairs cancer immunotherapy. At the late stage of tumor development, when CD4+ Treg cells dominate the tumor-microenvironment, CD4+ Tregs mediate the clonal deletion of these tumor-suppressive FOXP3- IFNγ+ CD8+ CD25+ CD127- T cells and ensure tumor immune evasion. Our findings suggest that at an early stage of the tumor, this tumor-induced IFNγ-producing FOXP3- CD8+ CD25+ CD127- T-cell subset can potentiate immune surveillance by targeting HLA-E-restricted CD4+ Treg cells while leaving the effector T-cell population unaffected. Hence, manipulating their profile can open up a new avenue in cancer immunotherapy.