Targeting Immune Regulatory Networks to Counteract Immune Suppression in Cancer

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The onset of cancer is unavoidably accompanied by suppression of antitumor immunity. This occurs through mechanisms ranging from the progressive accumulation of regulatory immune cells associated with chronic immune stimulation and inflammation, to the expression of immunosuppressive molecules. Some of them are being successfully exploited as therapeutic targets, with impressive clinical results achieved in patients, as in the case of immune checkpoint inhibitors. To limit immune attack, tumor cells exploit specific pathways to render the tumor microenvironment hostile for antitumor effector cells. Local acidification might, in fact, anergize activated T cells and facilitate the accumulation of immune suppressive cells. Moreover, the release of extracellular vesicles by tumor cells can condition distant immune sites contributing to the onset of systemic immune suppression. Understanding which mechanisms may be prevalent in specific cancers or disease stages, and identifying possible strategies to counterbalance would majorly contribute to improving clinical efficacy of cancer immunotherapy. Here, we intend to highlight these mechanisms, how they could be targeted and the tools that might be available in the near future to achieve this goal.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 4 2016


  • Review
  • Journal Article


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