Lymphocytes in cancer development: Polarization towards pro-tumor immunity

Brian Ruffell, David G. DeNardo, Nesrine I. Affara, Lisa Coussens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

126 Scopus citations


The classic view that the role of immune cells in cancer is primarily one of tumor rejection has been supplanted by a more complex view of leukocytes having both pro- and anti-tumor properties. This shift is due to the now well recognized capabilities of several myeloid cell types that foster pro-tumor programming of premalignant tissue, as well as the discovery that subsets of leukocytes also suppress development and effector functions of lymphocytes important for mediating anti-tumor immunity. In this review, we focus on the underappreciated role that T lymphocytes play in promoting tumor development. This includes, in addition to the role of T regulatory cells, a role for natural killer T cells and CD4+ T helper cells in suppressing anti-tumor immunity and promoting cancer growth and metastasis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-10
Number of pages8
JournalCytokine and Growth Factor Reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010
Externally publishedYes



  • Cancer
  • Inflammation
  • Lymphocytes
  • Tumors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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