Background: Foxp3+ regulatory T lymphocytes (T-regs) represent an important regulatory cell subset in inflammatory, preneoplastic and neoplastic conditions of the gastrointestinal tract. Methods: Inflammatory, preneoplastic and neoplastic conditions of the gastrointestinal tract (189 cases) were studied with the evaluation of Foxp3 regulatory T cells based on immunohistochemistry. Results: Few Foxp3+ cells were found in controls and inflammatory conditions (oesophagitis, gastritis, coeliac disease, inflammatory bowel disease); in preneoplastic and neoplastic conditions the number of Foxp3+ cells was significatively increased. Conclusions: In normal conditions the number of mucosal lymphocytes is very low throughout the gastro-intestinal tract; in active coeliac disease patients or on a gluten-free diet, only a slight increase in Foxp3+ cells may be found. Gastrointestinal cancers are associated with higher Foxp3+ cell proportion, compared with microscopically normal tissue and with precancerous conditions. However, it is uncertain whether the increase in these regulatory cells is a cause or a consequence of tumour progression.
- Coeliac disease
- Gastrointestinal cancer
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine