Background: Increased numbers of regulatory T cells (Treg) and decreased ratios of CD8+ T cells to Treg have been shown to correlate with decreased survival times (ST) in humans with certain malignancies. A possible connection between Treg and ST in dogs with cancer has not been investigated previously. Hypothesis: The purpose of this study was to compare numbers of Treg and T lymphocyte subsets in dogs with osteosarcoma (OSA) to those of healthy dogs and to determine whether pretreatment values were associated with disease-free interval or with ST. We hypothesized that Treg numbers would be increased in dogs with cancer and that dogs with a high percentage of Treg would have a poorer prognosis. Animals: Twelve client-owned dogs with appendicular OSA were entered into a prospective clinical trial. Twenty-two healthy dogs were used as controls. Methods: The percentages and numbers of Treg and CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in blood, lymph nodes, and tumors were determined with flow cytometry and compared between dogs with OSA and control dogs. Results: Dogs with OSA had significantly fewer circulating CD8+ T cells and significantly more Treg compared with healthy dogs. The CD8/Treg ratio also was significantly lower in dogs with OSA compared with control dogs. In dogs with OSA, a decreased CD8/Treg ratio was associated with significantly shorter STs. Conclusions: These data support a role for Treg in the immune control of canine OSA and suggest that determination of the CD8/Treg ratio may be useful for assessing outcomes.
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