Background: Although Helicobacter pylori eradication is a first-line treatment of gastric MALT lymphoma, roughly 25% of patients do not respond to treatment. CD4+ FOXP3+ regulatory T (Treg) cells regulate immune responses in physiological conditions and various inflammatory conditions, including H. pylori-associated diseases. Our goal was to determine how Treg cells affect responsiveness to H. pylori eradication therapy. Materials and methods: We performed dual immunohistochemistry for CD4 and FOXP3 to evaluate the prevalence of FOXP3+ Treg cells in the stomach of 63 patients with MALT lymphoma and 55 patients with chronic active gastritis. Receiver operating characteristic analysis was carried out to determine the best cut-off point in differentiating H. pylori eradication responders from nonresponders. Results: Both the FOXP3+/CD4+ cell ratio and the absolute number of FOXP3+ cells per high-power field in MALT lymphoma were significantly greater in H. pylori eradication responders compared with nonresponders, suggesting that Treg cells function in regression mechanisms of MALT lymphomas. Cut-off points with good sensitivities and specificities were obtained to predict eradication outcome. Conclusions: A high number of Treg cells or a high ratio of Treg cells to the total number of CD4+ T cells in gastric MALT lymphoma could predict responsiveness to eradication therapy.
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