The improved understanding of the biochemical nature of tumor antigens and the identification of cellular and molecular mechanisms leading to activation of innate and adaptive immune cells have been of paramount importance in the progress of tumor immunology. Studies on the intricate network of interactions between tumor and immune cells have revealed novel regulatory signals, including cell surface inhibitory receptors and costimulatory molecules, intracellular regulatory pathways, immunosuppressive cytokines and proapoptotic mediators, which may operate in concert to orchestrate tumor-immune escape. This emerging portfolio of inhibitory checkpoints can influence the physiology of innate immune cells including dendritic cells, macrophages and natural killer (NK) cells, as well as different subsets of T cells to fine tune their effector function. The synergistic combination of strategies aimed at overcoming regulatory signals and/or stimulating effector pathways, may offer therapeutic advantage as adjuvants of conventional anticancer therapies. Based on this premise, we will discuss here how the control of the effector functions of innate and adaptive immune cells and the manipulation of regulatory pathways, either alone or in combination, could be exploited for therapeutic purposes in cancer patients.
Keywords: Tumor-immune escape, T lymphocytes, NK cells, dendritic cells, immunotherapy
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