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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2016, Article ID 1580967, 10 pages
Review Article

Reactive Oxygen Species Regulate T Cell Immune Response in the Tumor Microenvironment

1Biotherapy Center, The First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou, Henan 450052, China
2Department of Oncology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou, Henan 450052, China
3Department of Hematology/Oncology, School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL 60201, USA
4School of Life Sciences, Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou, Henan 450052, China
5Engineering Key Laboratory for Cell Therapy of Henan Province, Zhengzhou, Henan 450052, China

Received 18 March 2016; Revised 6 June 2016; Accepted 30 June 2016

Academic Editor: Svetlana Karakhanova

Copyright © 2016 Xinfeng Chen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Reactive oxygen species (ROS) produced by cellular metabolism play an important role as signaling messengers in immune system. ROS elevated in the tumor microenvironment are associated with tumor-induced immunosuppression. T cell-based therapy has been recently approved to be effective for cancer treatment. However, T cells often become dysfunctional after reaching the tumor site. It has been reported that ROS participate extensively in T cells activation, apoptosis, and hyporesponsiveness. The sensitivity of T cells to ROS varies among different subsets. ROS can be regulated by cytokines, amino acid metabolism, and enzymatic activity. Immunosuppressive cells accumulate in the tumor microenvironment and induce apoptosis and functional suppression of T cells by producing ROS. Thus, modulating the level of ROS may be important to prolong survival of T cells and enhance their antitumor function. Combining T cell-based therapy with antioxidant treatment such as administration of ROS scavenger should be considered as a promising strategy in cancer treatment, aiming to improve antitumor T cells immunity.