The impact of regulatory T (Treg) cells as a prognostic factor of survival in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) remains controversial. We aimed to evaluate the prognostic value of Treg cells in patients with HNSCC through a meta-analysis.
Through a literature search in PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane, we included 11 articles in this meta-analysis and investigated the effect of Treg cell level on the survival of patients with HNSCC. Also, we performed a subgroup analysis according to the study sample (blood vs. tumor tissue), primary tumor site, HPV infectivity, or Treg cell marker.
High levels of circulating Treg cells in the peripheral blood of patients with HNSCC can significantly increase the disease specific survival rate of patients. Moreover, subgroup analysis showed that high levels of Treg in peripheral blood were significantly associated with better disease specific survival in patients with oral cancer, a subsite of HNSCC, but not in those with other head and neck subsite. Positivity of HPV infection did not influence the prognosis of patients with HNSCC.
Increase in the levels of circulating Treg cells in peripheral blood can be a prognostic factor of survival in patients with oral cancer.
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