Immunotherapy in hepatocellular carcinoma

Luigi Buonaguro, Angela Mauriello, Beatrice Cavalluzzo, Annacarmen Petrizzo, Maria Tagliamonte

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is considered an immunogenic tumor that arises in chronically inflamed livers due to underlying chronic liver disease caused by viral and non-viral pathogenesis. This inflammation leads to tumor development and is associated to higher tumor immunogenicity. For this reason immunotherapeutic approaches may be suitable therapeutic strategies for HCC. Indeed, several preclinical and clinical data support this hypothesis showing that immunotherapy and even more their combination may be a good alternative candidate for the treatment of HCC patients. However, considering that the liver plays a central role in host defense as well as in the maintenance of self-tolerance, it is characterized by a strong intrinsic immune suppressive microenvironment as well as by a high immune evasion, which may represent a major impediment for an effective immune response against tumor. Furthermore, the low expression of tumor antigens on liver cancer cells leads to a lower T-cell activation and tumor infiltration, resulting in a less efficient control of the tumor growth and, consequently, in a worse clinical outcome. For this reason, strategies should be developed to counteract the different factors in the HCC tumor microenvironment playing a major role in reducing the effects of immunotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-297
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Hepatology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology


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