The immune system in hepatocellular carcinoma and potential new immunotherapeutic strategies

Gaetano Bertino, Shirin Demma, Annalisa Ardiri, Maria Proiti, Alessandra Mangia, Salvatore Gruttadauria, Adriana Toro, Isidoro Di Carlo, Giulia Malaguarnera, Nicoletta Bertino, Mariano Malaguarnera, Michele Malaguarnera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. Hepatocellular carcinoma is a major health problem worldwide and the third most common cause of cancer-related death. HCC treatment decisions are complex and dependent upon tumor staging. Several molecular targeted agents have been evaluated in clinical trials in advanced HCC. Despite of only modest objective response rates according to the Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors, several studies showed encouraging results in terms of prolongation of the time to progression, disease stabilization, and survival. Cellular immunotherapy would improve the immune state and has potential in enhancing the therapeutic outcome for HCC patients. Materials and Methods. A search of the literature was made using cancer literature, the PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science (WOS) database for the following keywords: "hepatocellular carcinoma," "molecular hepatocarcinogenesis," "targeted therapy," "molecular immunological targets," "tumour-associated antigens," "Tregs," "MDSCs," "immunotherapy." Discussion and Conclusion. Treatment strategies combining blockade of immunoregulatory cell types such as Tregs and MDSCs and of inhibitory receptors, with vaccine-induced activation of TAA-specific T cells, may be necessary to achieve the most effective therapeutic antitumour activity in HCC. In the future, new therapeutic options will be represented by a blend of immunotherapy-like vaccines and T-cell modulators, supplemented by molecularly targeted inhibitors of tumor signaling pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Article number731469
JournalBioMed Research International
Publication statusPublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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