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FOXP3 immunohistochemistry on formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue: poor correlation between different antibodies
  1. Y L Woo1,
  2. J Sterling2,
  3. R Crawford3,
  4. S H van der Burg4,
  5. N Coleman5,
  6. M Stanley2
  1. 1
    Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, UK
  2. 2
    Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  3. 3
    Department of Gynaecological Oncology, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, UK
  4. 4
    Department of Clinical Oncology, Leiden University Medical Centre, Albinusdreef, ZA Leiden, The Netherlands
  5. 5
    Hutchison/MRC Research Centre, MRC Cancer Cell Unit and, University of Cambridge/Cancer Research UK, Department of Oncology, Cambridge, UK
  1. Yin Ling Woo, Box 237, Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge, Laboratory Block, Level 5, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, UK; ylw22{at}


Since its original description, there has been a substantial output of publications related to the FOXP3 gene. The FOXP3 protein, a member of the forkhead/winged-helix family of transcriptional regulators is a nuclear product and is not expressed in the cell cytoplasm or on the cell surface. Expression of this single transcription factor causes a developmental switch in naïve T cells to a suppressor cell phenotype, more commonly referred to as regulatory T cells (Tregs). Tregs have been intensively studied in various autoimmune diseases, infections and different cancers. An increasing choice of commercially available monoclonal antibodies targeting FOXP3 is now available. This report describes the experience of using two commonly used monoclonal FOXP3 antibodies on formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded sections of different organs, including the cervix and vulva. The antibodies targeting different FOXP3 epitopes unexpectedly resulted in significantly different staining patterns. This phenomenon has not been previously reported and is likely to be an important observation.

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  • Funding: This project was funded by Cancer Research UK. Yin Ling Woo is a Cancer Research UK Gordon Hamilton Fairley Clinical Fellow.

  • Competing interests: None.

  • Ethics approval: Ethics committee approval was obtained for this study.