The Portrait of Cancer Immunotherapy: Tumor Microenvironment, Biomarkers and Immune Resistance

A special issue of Cancers (ISSN 2072-6694). This special issue belongs to the section "Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2020) | Viewed by 133156

Special Issue Editor

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The exploitation of the immune lymphocyte’s capacity to specifically recognize and destroy autologous tumor cells has revolutionized the treatment paradigm across a variety of human cancers. Cancer immunotherapy has made several major breakthroughs in the past few years, and the immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) has become the cutting-edge therapy for many cancer types with persisting clinical responses. Nevertheless, enthusiasm about the use of ICB in cancer immunotherapy has been significantly mitigated by the fact that only 20%–30% of patients respond to this type of treatment. This underscores the importance to more precisely investigate the complex interactions between tumors and the various elements and factors within the tumor microenvironment (TME) which comprise or modulate the antitumor immune response. This will lead to a better understanding of the immune context of the TME and its role in generating antitumor immunity or immune resistance, thus providing the mechanistic impact for novel combination therapies. On this basis, high-throughput analyses of tumor specimens, peripheral blood, and multiplex imaging followed by computational analyses is imperative for the identification of novel biomarkers or biomarker signatures to optimize immunotherapies.

In this Special Issue, experts in the field of cancer immunotherapy will review the role of TME in regulating clinical responses during immunotherapies by promoting antitumor immunity or immune resistance, and will discuss recent therapeutic modalities that modulate the TME to reinforce preexisting or therapy-induced antitumor immunity.

Moreover, this Issue will include new research articles related to research into a broad range of immunotherapy treatments including cellular therapies, vaccines, and ICB; the identification of new predictive biomarkers and therapeutic targets; novel therapeutic approaches; and the use of immune modulators in to overcome immune resistance, among others.

Dr. Constantin N. Baxevanis
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • TILs
  • immune score
  • biomarkers
  • HLA
  • T cells
  • vaccines
  • immune checkpoints
  • mutational burden
  • immune resistance
  • cancer immunotherapy
  • tumor microenvironment
  • targeted therapies

Published Papers (34 papers)

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16 pages, 1814 KiB  
Article
Small Extracellular Vesicles in Pre-Therapy Plasma Predict Clinical Outcome in Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer Patients
Cancers 2021, 13(9), 2041; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13092041 - 23 Apr 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2236
Abstract
The potential use of plasma-derived small extracellular vesicles (sEV) as predictors of response to therapy and clinical outcome in chemotherapy-naïve patients with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) was explored. sEV were isolated by size-exclusion chromatography from the plasma of 79 chemotherapy-naïve NSCLC patients and [...] Read more.
The potential use of plasma-derived small extracellular vesicles (sEV) as predictors of response to therapy and clinical outcome in chemotherapy-naïve patients with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) was explored. sEV were isolated by size-exclusion chromatography from the plasma of 79 chemotherapy-naïve NSCLC patients and 12 healthy donors (HD). sEV were characterized with regard to protein content, particle size, counts by qNano, morphology by transmission electron microscopy, and molecular profiles by Western blots. PD-1 and PD-L1 expression on circulating immune cells was analysed by flow cytometry. Pre-treatment levels of total sEV protein (TEP) were correlated with overall (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS). The sEV numbers and protein levels were significantly elevated in the plasma of NSCLC patients compared to HD (p = 0.009 and 0.0001, respectively). Baseline TEP levels were higher in patients who developed progressive disease compared to patients with stable disease (p = 0.007 and 0.001, stage III and IV, respectively). Patient-derived sEV were enriched in immunosuppressive proteins as compared to proteins carried by sEV from HD. TEP levels were positively correlated with CD8+PD-1+ and CD8+PD-L1+ circulating T cell percentages and were independently associated with poorer PFS (p < 0.00001) and OS (p < 0.00001). Pre-therapy sEV could be useful as non-invasive biomarkers of response to therapy and clinical outcome in NSCLC. Full article
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13 pages, 26043 KiB  
Article
Clinical Activity of an hTERT-Specific Cancer Vaccine (Vx-001) in “Immune Desert” NSCLC
Cancers 2021, 13(7), 1658; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13071658 - 01 Apr 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2157
Abstract
Background: Tumors can be separated into immunogenic/hot and non-immunogenic/cold on the basis of the presence of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs), the expression of PD-L1 and the tumor mutation burden (TMB). In immunogenic tumors, TILs become unable to control tumor growth because their activity is [...] Read more.
Background: Tumors can be separated into immunogenic/hot and non-immunogenic/cold on the basis of the presence of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs), the expression of PD-L1 and the tumor mutation burden (TMB). In immunogenic tumors, TILs become unable to control tumor growth because their activity is suppressed by different inhibitory pathways, including PD-1/PD-L1. We hypothesized that tumor vaccines may not be active in the immunosuppressive microenvironment of immunogenic/hot tumors while they could be efficient in the immune naïve microenvironment of non-immunogenic/cold tumors. Methods: The randomized phase II Vx-001-201 study investigated the effect of the Vx-001 vaccine as maintenance treatment in metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients. Biopsies from 131 (68 placebo and 63 Vx-001) patients were retrospectively analyzed for PD-L1 expression and TIL infiltration. TILs were measured as tumor-associated immune cells (TAICs), CD3-TILs, CD8-TILs and granzyme B-producing TILs (GZMB-TILs). Patients were distinguished into PD-L1(+) and PD-L1(-) and into TIL high and TIL low. Findings: There was no correlation between PD-L1 expression and Vx-001 clinical activity. In contrast, Vx-001 showed a significant improvement of overall survival (OS) vs. placebo in TAIC low (21 vs. 8.1 months, p = 0.003, HR = 0.404, 95% CI 0.219–0.745), CD3-TIL low (21.6 vs. 6.6 months, p < 0.001, HR = 0.279, 95% CI 0.131–0.595), CD8-TIL low (21 vs. 6.6 months, p < 0.001; HR = 0.240, 95% CI 0.11–0.522) and GZMB-TIL low (20.7 vs. 11.1 months, p = 0.011, HR = 0.490, 95% CI 0.278–0.863). Vx-001 did not offer any clinical benefit in patients with TAIC high, CD3-TIL high, CD8-TIL high or GZMB-TIL high tumors. CD3-TIL, CD8-TIL and GZMB-TIL were independent predictive factors of Vx-001 efficacy. Conclusions: These results support the hypothesis that Vx-001 may be efficient in patients with non-immunogenic/cold but not with immunogenic/hot tumors. Full article
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20 pages, 3480 KiB  
Article
Blocking Migration of Polymorphonuclear Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells Inhibits Mouse Melanoma Progression
Cancers 2021, 13(4), 726; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13040726 - 10 Feb 2021
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 3433
Abstract
Background: Despite recent improvement in the treatment of malignant melanoma by immune-checkpoint inhibitors, the disease can progress due to an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment (TME) mainly represented by myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC). However, the relative contribution of the polymorphonuclear (PMN) and monocytic (M) MDSC [...] Read more.
Background: Despite recent improvement in the treatment of malignant melanoma by immune-checkpoint inhibitors, the disease can progress due to an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment (TME) mainly represented by myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC). However, the relative contribution of the polymorphonuclear (PMN) and monocytic (M) MDSC subsets to melanoma progression is not clear. Here, we compared both subsets regarding their immunosuppressive capacity and recruitment mechanisms. Furthermore, we inhibited PMN-MDSC migration in vivo to determine its effect on tumor progression. Methods: Using the RET transgenic melanoma mouse model, we investigated the immunosuppressive function of MDSC subsets and chemokine receptor expression on these cells. The effect of CXCR2 inhibition on PMN-MDSC migration and tumor progression was studied in RET transgenic mice and in C57BL/6 mice after surgical resection of primary melanomas. Results: Immunosuppressive capacity of intratumoral M- and PMN-MDSC was comparable in melanoma bearing mice. Anti-CXCR2 therapy prolonged survival of these mice and decreased the occurrence of distant metastasis. Furthermore, this therapy reduced the infiltration of melanoma lesions and pre-metastatic sites with PMN-MDSC that was associated with the accumulation of natural killer (NK) cells. Conclusions: We provide evidence for the tumorpromoting properties of PMN-MDSC as well as for the anti-tumor effects upon their targeting in melanoma bearing mice. Full article
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15 pages, 1350 KiB  
Article
Patterns of Response to Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors in Association with Genomic and Clinical Features in Patients with Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma (HNSCC)
Cancers 2021, 13(2), 286; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13020286 - 14 Jan 2021
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 2637
Abstract
Background: We sought to compare patterns of response to immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) with respect to clinical and genomic features in a retrospective cohort of patients with recurrent/metastatic (R/M) head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Methods: One hundred seventeen patients [...] Read more.
Background: We sought to compare patterns of response to immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) with respect to clinical and genomic features in a retrospective cohort of patients with recurrent/metastatic (R/M) head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Methods: One hundred seventeen patients with R/M HNSCC treated with ICI were included in this study. Tumor growth kinetics (TGK) prior to and TGK upon immunotherapy (IO) was available for 49 patients. The TGK ratio (TGKR, the ratio of tumor growth velocity before and upon treatment) was calculated. Hyperprogression (HPD) was defined as TGKR ≥ 2. Results: HPD was documented in 18 patients (15.4% of the whole cohort). Patients with HPD had statistically significant shorter progression free survival (PFS) (median PFS 1.8 months (95% CI, 1.03–2.69) vs. 6.1 months for patients with non-HPD (95% CI, 4.78–7.47), p = 0.0001) and overall survival (OS) (median OS 6.53 months (95% CI, 0–13.39) vs. 15 months in patients with non HPD (95% CI, 7.1–22.8), p = 0.0018). In a multivariate Cox analysis, the presence of HPD remained an independent prognostic factor (p = 0.049). Primary site in the oral cavity and administration of ICI in the second/third setting were significant predictors of HPD in multivariate analysis (p = 0.028 and p = 0.012, respectively). Genomic profiling revealed that gene amplification was more common in HPD patients. EGFR gene amplification was only observed in HPD patients, but the number of events was inadequate for the analysis to reach statistical significance. The previously described MDM2 amplification was not identified. Conclusions: HPD was observed in 15.4 % of patients with R/M HNSCC treated with IO and was associated with worse PFS and OS. EGFR amplification was identified in patients with HPD. Full article
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14 pages, 3623 KiB  
Article
The Search for an Interesting Partner to Combine with PD-L1 Blockade in Mesothelioma: Focus on TIM-3 and LAG-3
Cancers 2021, 13(2), 282; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13020282 - 14 Jan 2021
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 3532
Abstract
Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is an aggressive cancer that is causally associated with previous asbestos exposure in most afflicted patients. The prognosis of patients remains dismal, with a median overall survival of only 9–12 months, due to the limited effectiveness of any conventional [...] Read more.
Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is an aggressive cancer that is causally associated with previous asbestos exposure in most afflicted patients. The prognosis of patients remains dismal, with a median overall survival of only 9–12 months, due to the limited effectiveness of any conventional anti-cancer treatment. New therapeutic strategies are needed to complement the limited armamentarium against MPM. We decided to focus on the combination of different immune checkpoint (IC) blocking antibodies (Abs). Programmed death-1 (PD-1), programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1), T-cell immunoglobulin mucin-3 (TIM-3), and lymphocyte activation gene-3 (LAG-3) blocking Abs were tested as monotherapies, and as part of a combination strategy with a second IC inhibitor. We investigated their effect in vitro by examining the changes in the immune-related cytokine secretion profile of supernatant collected from treated allogeneic MPM-peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) co-cultures. Based on our in vitro results of cytokine secretion, and flow cytometry data that showed a significant upregulation of PD-L1 on PBMC after co-culture, we chose to further investigate the combinations of anti PD-L1 + anti TIM-3 versus anti PD-L1 + anti LAG-3 therapies in vivo in the AB1-HA BALB/cJ mesothelioma mouse model. PD-L1 monotherapy, as well as its combination with LAG-3 blockade, resulted in in-vivo delayed tumor growth and significant survival benefit. Full article
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11 pages, 583 KiB  
Article
Functional T Cell Reactivity to Melanocyte Antigens Is Lost during the Progression of Malignant Melanoma, but Is Restored by Immunization
Cancers 2021, 13(2), 223; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13020223 - 09 Jan 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2455
Abstract
Healthy human subjects develop spontaneous CD8+ T cell responses to melanoma associated antigens (MA) expressed by normal melanocytes, such as Tyrosinase, MAGE-A3, Melan/Mart-1, gp100, and NY-ESO-1. This natural autoimmunity directed against melanocytes might confer protection against the development of malignant melanoma (MM), where [...] Read more.
Healthy human subjects develop spontaneous CD8+ T cell responses to melanoma associated antigens (MA) expressed by normal melanocytes, such as Tyrosinase, MAGE-A3, Melan/Mart-1, gp100, and NY-ESO-1. This natural autoimmunity directed against melanocytes might confer protection against the development of malignant melanoma (MM), where MA are present as overexpressed tumor-associated antigens. Consistent with this notion we report here that functional T cell reactivity to MA was found to be significantly diminished to MAGE-A3, Melan-A/Mart-1, and gp100 in untreated MM patients. Three lines of evidence suggest that the MA-reactive T cells present in healthy subjects undergo exhaustion once MM establishes itself. First, only the MA-specific T cell reactivity was affected in the MM patients; that to third party recall antigens was not. Second, in these patients, the residual MA-specific T cells, unlike third party antigen reactive T cells, were functionally impaired, showing a diminished per cell IFN-γ productivity. Third, we show that immunization with MA restored natural CD8+ T cell autoimmunity to MA in 85% of the MM patients. The role of natural T cell autoimmunity to tumor-associated MA is discussed based on discrete levels of T cell activation thresholds. Full article
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22 pages, 4723 KiB  
Article
Bromamine T (BAT) Exerts Stronger Anti-Cancer Properties than Taurine (Tau)
Cancers 2021, 13(2), 182; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13020182 - 07 Jan 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2793
Abstract
Background: Taurine (Tau) ameliorates cancer pathogenesis. Researchers have focused on the functional properties of bromamine T (BAT), a stable active bromine molecule. Both N-bromotaurine (TauNHBr) and BAT exert potent anti-inflammatory properties, but the landscape remains obscure concerning the anti-cancer effect of BAT. Methods: [...] Read more.
Background: Taurine (Tau) ameliorates cancer pathogenesis. Researchers have focused on the functional properties of bromamine T (BAT), a stable active bromine molecule. Both N-bromotaurine (TauNHBr) and BAT exert potent anti-inflammatory properties, but the landscape remains obscure concerning the anti-cancer effect of BAT. Methods: We used Crystal Violet, colony formation, flow cytometry and Western blot experiments to evaluate the effect of BAT and Tau on the apoptosis and autophagy of cancer cells. Xenograft experiments were used to determine the in vivo cytotoxicity of either agent. Results: We demonstrated that both BAT and Tau inhibited the growth of human colon, breast, cervical and skin cancer cell lines. Among them, BAT exerted the greatest cytotoxic effect on both RKO and MDA-MB-468 cells. In particular, BAT increased the phosphorylation of c-Jun N-terminal kinases (JNK½), p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), and extracellular-signal-regulated kinases (ERK½), thereby inducing mitochondrial apoptosis and autophagy in RKO cells. In contrast, Tau exerted its cytotoxic effect by upregulating JNK½ forms, thus triggering mitochondrial apoptosis in RKO cells. Accordingly, colon cancer growth was impaired in vivo. Conclusions: BAT and Tau exerted their anti-tumor properties through the induction of (i) mitochondrial apoptosis, (ii) the MAPK family, and iii) autophagy, providing novel anti-cancer therapeutic modalities. Full article
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22 pages, 51722 KiB  
Article
Acute Conditioning of Antigen-Expanded CD8+ T Cells via the GSK3β-mTORC Axis Differentially Dictates Their Immediate and Distal Responses after Antigen Rechallenge
Cancers 2020, 12(12), 3766; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12123766 - 14 Dec 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2081
Abstract
CD8+ T cells protect against tumors and intracellular pathogens. The inflammatory cytokines IL-2, IL-15, and IL-7 are necessary for their expansion. However, elevated serum levels of these cytokines are often associated with cancer, poorer prognosis of cancer patients, and exhaustion of antigen-expanded [...] Read more.
CD8+ T cells protect against tumors and intracellular pathogens. The inflammatory cytokines IL-2, IL-15, and IL-7 are necessary for their expansion. However, elevated serum levels of these cytokines are often associated with cancer, poorer prognosis of cancer patients, and exhaustion of antigen-expanded CD8+ T cells. The impact of acute conditioning of antigen-expanded CD8+ T cells with these cytokines is unknown. Here, we generated antigen-expanded CD8+ T cells using dendritic cells and PC-3 cells. The cells were acutely (18–24 h) conditioned with IL-2 and either the GSK3β inhibitor TWS119, the mTORC1 inhibitor rapamycin, or the mTORC1/2 inhibitor Torin1, then their immediate and post-re-expansion (distal) cytokine responses after antigen rechallenge were evaluated. We found that acute IL-2 conditioning upregulated the immediate antigen-induced cytokine response of the tested cells. Following their re-expansion, however, the cells showed a decreased cytokine response. These IL-2 conditioning-mediated impacts were counteracted with TWS119 or rapamycin but not with Torin1. Our data revealed that the acute conditioning of antigen-expanded CD8+ T cells with IL-2 modulates the GSK3β-mTORC signaling axis. This modulation differentially affected the immediate and distal cytokine responses of the cells. The acute targeting of this signaling axis could, therefore, represent a novel strategy for the modulation of antigen-expanded CD8+ T cells. Full article
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14 pages, 2841 KiB  
Article
Silencing of VEGFR2 by RGD-Modified Lipid Nanoparticles Enhanced the Efficacy of Anti-PD-1 Antibody by Accelerating Vascular Normalization and Infiltration of T Cells in Tumors
Cancers 2020, 12(12), 3630; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12123630 - 04 Dec 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 3670
Abstract
Despite the promising anticancer effects of immune checkpoint inhibitors, their low objective response rate remains to be resolved; thus, combination therapies have been investigated. We investigated the combination of an anti-programmed cell death 1 (aPD-1) monoclonal antibody with the knockdown of vascular endothelial [...] Read more.
Despite the promising anticancer effects of immune checkpoint inhibitors, their low objective response rate remains to be resolved; thus, combination therapies have been investigated. We investigated the combination of an anti-programmed cell death 1 (aPD-1) monoclonal antibody with the knockdown of vascular endothelial factor receptor 2 (VEGFR2) on tumor endothelial cells to overcome resistance to immune checkpoint inhibitors and improve the objective response rate. The successful delivery of small interfering RNA to tumor endothelial cells was achieved by RGD peptide-modified lipid nanoparticles composed of a novel, pH-sensitive, and biodegradable ssPalmO-Phe. RGD-modified lipid nanoparticles efficiently induced the knockdown of VEGFR2 in tumor endothelial cells (TECs), which induced vascular normalization. The combination of a PD-1 monoclonal antibody with Vegfr2 knockdown enhanced CD8+ T cell infiltration into tumors and successfully suppressed tumor growth and improved response rate compared with monotherapy. Our combination approach provides a promising strategy to improve therapeutic outcomes in immune checkpoint inhibitor-resistant cancers. Full article
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18 pages, 2801 KiB  
Article
Integrity of the Antiviral STING-mediated DNA Sensing in Tumor Cells Is Required to Sustain the Immunotherapeutic Efficacy of Herpes Simplex Oncolytic Virus
Cancers 2020, 12(11), 3407; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12113407 - 17 Nov 2020
Cited by 23 | Viewed by 3236
Abstract
The dichotomic contribution of cancer cell lysis and tumor immunogenicity is considered essential for effective oncovirotherapy, suggesting that the innate antiviral immune response is a hurdle for efficacy of oncolytic viruses. However, emerging evidence is resizing this view. By sensing cytosolic DNA, the [...] Read more.
The dichotomic contribution of cancer cell lysis and tumor immunogenicity is considered essential for effective oncovirotherapy, suggesting that the innate antiviral immune response is a hurdle for efficacy of oncolytic viruses. However, emerging evidence is resizing this view. By sensing cytosolic DNA, the cyclic GMP-AMP synthase (cGAS) and stimulator of interferon genes (STING) axis can both counteract viral spread and contribute to the elicitation of adaptive immunity via type I interferon responses. In this paper, we analyzed the tumor-resident function of Sting-mediated DNA sensing in a combined approach of oncovirotherapy and PD-1 immune checkpoint blockade, in an immunocompetent murine model. While supporting increased lytic potential by oncolytic HER2-retargeted HSV-1 in vitro and in vivo, Sting-knockout tumors showed molecular signatures of an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment. These signatures were correspondingly associated with ineffectiveness of the combination therapy in a model of established tumors. Results suggest that the impairment in antiviral response of Sting-knockout tumors, while favoring viral replication, is not able to elicit an adequate immunotherapeutic effect, due to lack of immunogenic cell death and the inability of Sting-knockout cancer cells to promote anti-tumor adaptive immune responses. Accordingly, we propose that antiviral, tumor-resident Sting provides fundamental contributions to immunotherapeutic efficacy of oncolytic viruses. Full article
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11 pages, 2084 KiB  
Article
iNOS Expression by Tumor-Infiltrating Lymphocytes, PD-L1 and Prognosis in Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer
Cancers 2020, 12(11), 3276; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12113276 - 05 Nov 2020
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 2623
Abstract
Background: Inducible Nitric Oxygen Synthase (iNOS) promotes the generation of NO in tissues. Its role in tumor progression and immune response is unclear. Methods: The immunohistochemical expression patterns of iNOS were studied in a series of 98 tissue samples of non-small-cell lung carcinoma [...] Read more.
Background: Inducible Nitric Oxygen Synthase (iNOS) promotes the generation of NO in tissues. Its role in tumor progression and immune response is unclear. Methods: The immunohistochemical expression patterns of iNOS were studied in a series of 98 tissue samples of non-small-cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC), in parallel with the expression of hypoxia and anaerobic metabolism markers, PD-L1 and tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs). Results: iNOS is expressed by cancer cells in 19/98 (19.4%), while extensive expression by cancer-associated fibroblasts occurs in 8/98 (8.2%) cases. None of these patterns relate to stage or prognosis. Extensive infiltration of the tumor stroma by iNOS-expressing TILs (iNOS+TILs) occurs in 47/98 (48%) cases. This is related to low Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1α (HIF1α), high PD-L1 expression and a better overall survival (p = 0.002). Expression of PD-L1, however, mitigates the beneficial effect of the presence of iNOS+TIL. Conclusions: Extensive expression of iNOS by TILs occurs in approximately 50% of NSCLCs, and this is significantly related to an improved overall survival. This brings forward the role of iNOS in anti-neoplastic lymphocyte biology, supporting iNOS+TILs as a putative marker of immune response. The value of this biomarker as a predictive and treatment-guiding tool for tumor immunotherapy demands further investigation. Full article
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19 pages, 1817 KiB  
Article
Deep Phenotyping Reveals Distinct Immune Signatures Correlating with Prognostication, Treatment Responses, and MRD Status in Multiple Myeloma
Cancers 2020, 12(11), 3245; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12113245 - 04 Nov 2020
Cited by 21 | Viewed by 2873
Abstract
Despite recent advances, Multiple Myeloma (MM) remains an incurable disease with apparent heterogeneity that may explain patients’ variable clinical outcomes. While the phenotypic, (epi)genetic, and molecular characteristics of myeloma cells have been thoroughly examined, there is limited information regarding the role of the [...] Read more.
Despite recent advances, Multiple Myeloma (MM) remains an incurable disease with apparent heterogeneity that may explain patients’ variable clinical outcomes. While the phenotypic, (epi)genetic, and molecular characteristics of myeloma cells have been thoroughly examined, there is limited information regarding the role of the bone marrow (BM) microenvironment in the natural history of the disease. In the present study, we performed deep phenotyping of 32 distinct immune cell subsets in a cohort of 94 MM patients to reveal unique immune profiles in both BM and peripheral blood (PB) that characterize distinct prognostic groups, responses to induction treatment, and minimal residual disease (MRD) status. Our data show that PB cells do not reflect the BM microenvironment and that the two sites should be studied independently. Adverse ISS stage and high-risk cytogenetics were correlated with distinct immune profiles; most importantly, BM signatures comprised decreased tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) and erythroblasts, whereas the unique Treg signatures in PB could discriminate those patients achieving complete remission after VRd induction therapy. Moreover, MRD negative status was correlated with a more experienced CD4- and CD8-mediated immunity phenotype in both BM and PB, thus highlighting a critical role of by-stander cells linked to MRD biology. Full article
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22 pages, 1998 KiB  
Article
Identification of Genes Whose Expression Overlaps Age Boundaries and Correlates with Risk Groups in Paediatric and Adult Acute Myeloid Leukaemia
Cancers 2020, 12(10), 2769; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12102769 - 27 Sep 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3092
Abstract
Few studies have compared gene expression in paediatric and adult acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). In this study, we have analysed mRNA-sequencing data from two publicly accessible databases: (1) National Cancer Institute’s Therapeutically Applicable Research to Generate Effective Treatments (NCI-TARGET), examining paediatric patients, and [...] Read more.
Few studies have compared gene expression in paediatric and adult acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). In this study, we have analysed mRNA-sequencing data from two publicly accessible databases: (1) National Cancer Institute’s Therapeutically Applicable Research to Generate Effective Treatments (NCI-TARGET), examining paediatric patients, and (2) The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), examining adult patients with AML. With a particular focus on 144 known tumour antigens, we identified STEAP1, SAGE1, MORC4, SLC34A2 and CEACAM3 as significantly different in their expression between standard and low risk paediatric AML patient subgroups, as well as between poor and good, and intermediate and good risk adult AML patient subgroups. We found significant differences in event-free survival (EFS) in paediatric AML patients, when comparing standard and low risk subgroups, and quartile expression levels of BIRC5, MAGEF1, MELTF, STEAP1 and VGLL4. We found significant differences in EFS in adult AML patients when comparing intermediate and good, and poor and good risk adult AML patient subgroups and quartile expression levels of MORC4 and SAGE1, respectively. When examining Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) (2016) pathway data, we found that genes altered in AML were involved in key processes such as the evasion of apoptosis (BIRC5, WNT1) or the control of cell proliferation (SSX2IP, AML1-ETO). For the first time we have compared gene expression in paediatric AML patients with that of adult AML patients. This study provides unique insights into the differences and similarities in the gene expression that underlies AML, the genes that are significantly differently expressed between risk subgroups, and provides new insights into the molecular pathways involved in AML pathogenesis. Full article
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17 pages, 4321 KiB  
Article
Unique Spatial Immune Profiling in Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma with Enrichment of Exhausted and Senescent T Cells and Diffused CD47-SIRPα Expression
Cancers 2020, 12(7), 1825; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12071825 - 07 Jul 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 5006
Abstract
Background: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is resistant to single-agent immunotherapies. To understand the mechanisms leading to the poor response to this treatment, a better understanding of the PDAC immune landscape is required. The present work aims to study the immune profile in PDAC [...] Read more.
Background: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is resistant to single-agent immunotherapies. To understand the mechanisms leading to the poor response to this treatment, a better understanding of the PDAC immune landscape is required. The present work aims to study the immune profile in PDAC in relationship to spatial heterogeneity of the tissue microenvironment (TME) in intact tissues. Methods: Serial section and multiplex in situ analysis were performed in 42 PDAC samples to assess gene and protein expression at single-cell resolution in the: (a) tumor center (TC), (b) invasive front (IF), (c) normal parenchyma adjacent to the tumor, and (d) tumor positive and negative draining lymph nodes (LNs). Results: We observed: (a) enrichment of T cell subpopulations with exhausted and senescent phenotype in the TC, IF and tumor positive LNs; (b) a dominant type 2 immune response in the TME, which is more pronounced in the TC; (c) an emerging role of CD47-SIRPα axis; and (d) a similar immune cell topography independently of the neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Conclusion: This study reveals the existence of dysfunctional T lymphocytes with specific spatial distribution, thus opening a new dimension both conceptually and mechanistically in tumor-stroma interaction in PDAC with potential impact on the efficacy of immune-regulatory therapeutic modalities. Full article
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14 pages, 1323 KiB  
Article
HLA Class I Allele Expression and Clinical Outcome in De Novo Metastatic Prostate Cancer
Cancers 2020, 12(6), 1623; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12061623 - 18 Jun 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 3001
Abstract
The prognostic value of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I molecules in prostate cancer (PCa) remains unclear. Herein, we investigated the prognostic relevance of the most frequently expressed HLA-A alleles in Greece (A*02:01 and HLA-A*24:02) in de novo metastatic hormone-sensitive PCa (mPCa), which [...] Read more.
The prognostic value of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I molecules in prostate cancer (PCa) remains unclear. Herein, we investigated the prognostic relevance of the most frequently expressed HLA-A alleles in Greece (A*02:01 and HLA-A*24:02) in de novo metastatic hormone-sensitive PCa (mPCa), which is a rare and aggressive disease characterized by a rapid progression to castration-resistance (CR) and poor overall survival (OS), contributing to almost 50% of PCa-related deaths. We identified 56 patients who had either progressed to CR (these patients were retrospectively analyzed for the time to the progression of CR and prospectively for OS) or had at least three months’ follow-up postdiagnosis without CR progression and, thus, were prospectively analyzed for both CR and OS. Patients expressing HLA-A*02:01 showed poor clinical outcomes vs. HLA-A*02:01negative patients. HLA-A*24:02positive patients progressed slower to CR and had increased OS. Homozygous HLA-A*02:01 patients progressed severely to CR, with very short OS. Multivariate analyses ascribed to both HLA alleles significant prognostic values for the time to progression (TTP) to CR and OS. The presence of HLA-A*02:01 and HLA-A*24:02 alleles in de novo mPCa patients are significantly and independently associated with unfavorable or favorable clinical outcomes, respectively, suggesting their possible prognostic relevance for treatment decision-making in the context of precision medicine. Full article
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21 pages, 6030 KiB  
Article
Development of a VLP-Based Vaccine Displaying an xCT Extracellular Domain for the Treatment of Metastatic Breast Cancer
Cancers 2020, 12(6), 1492; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12061492 - 08 Jun 2020
Cited by 22 | Viewed by 3265
Abstract
Metastatic breast cancer (MBC) is the leading cause of cancer death in women due to recurrence and resistance to conventional therapies. Thus, MBC represents an important unmet clinical need for new treatments. In this paper we generated a virus-like particle (VLP)-based vaccine (AX09) [...] Read more.
Metastatic breast cancer (MBC) is the leading cause of cancer death in women due to recurrence and resistance to conventional therapies. Thus, MBC represents an important unmet clinical need for new treatments. In this paper we generated a virus-like particle (VLP)-based vaccine (AX09) to inhibit de novo metastasis formation and ultimately prolong the survival of patients with MBC. To this aim, we engineered the bacteriophage MS2 VLP to display an extracellular loop of xCT, a promising therapeutic target involved in tumor progression and metastasis formation. Elevated levels of this protein are observed in a high percentage of invasive mammary ductal tumors including triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) and correlate with poor overall survival. Moreover, xCT expression is restricted to only a few normal cell types. Here, we tested AX09 in several MBC mouse models and showed that it was well-tolerated and elicited a strong antibody response against xCT. This antibody-based response resulted in the inhibition of xCT’s function in vitro and reduced metastasis formation in vivo. Thus, AX09 represents a promising novel approach for MBC, and it is currently advancing to clinical development. Full article
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Review

Jump to: Research

16 pages, 828 KiB  
Review
T Cell Defects and Immunotherapy in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
Cancers 2021, 13(13), 3255; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13133255 - 29 Jun 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2089
Abstract
In the past few years, independent studies have highlighted the relevance of the tumor microenvironment (TME) in cancer, revealing a great variety of TME-related predictive markers, as well as identifying novel therapeutic targets in the TME. Cancer immunotherapy targets different components of the [...] Read more.
In the past few years, independent studies have highlighted the relevance of the tumor microenvironment (TME) in cancer, revealing a great variety of TME-related predictive markers, as well as identifying novel therapeutic targets in the TME. Cancer immunotherapy targets different components of the immune system and the TME at large in order to reinforce effector mechanisms or relieve inhibitory and suppressive signaling. Currently, it constitutes a clinically validated treatment for many cancers, including chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), an incurable malignancy of mature B lymphocytes with great dependency on microenvironmental signals. Although immunotherapy represents a promising therapeutic option with encouraging results in CLL, the dysfunctional T cell compartment remains a major obstacle in such approaches. In the scope of this review, we outline the current immunotherapeutic treatment options in CLL in the light of recent immunogenetic and functional evidence of T cell impairment. We also highlight possible approaches for overcoming T cell defects and invigorating potent anti-tumor immune responses that would enhance the efficacy of immunotherapy. Full article
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15 pages, 1972 KiB  
Review
Cripto-1 as a Potential Target of Cancer Stem Cells for Immunotherapy
Cancers 2021, 13(10), 2491; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13102491 - 20 May 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 3433
Abstract
The immune system has been found to be suppressed in cancer patients. Cancer cells are extremely resistant to chemotherapeutic drugs, conventional immunotherapy, or cancer antigen vaccine therapy. Cancer immunotherapy, which is mainly based on immune checkpoint inhibitors, such as those for PD-1, PD-L1, [...] Read more.
The immune system has been found to be suppressed in cancer patients. Cancer cells are extremely resistant to chemotherapeutic drugs, conventional immunotherapy, or cancer antigen vaccine therapy. Cancer immunotherapy, which is mainly based on immune checkpoint inhibitors, such as those for PD-1, PD-L1, and CTLA4, is an effective treatment method. However, no immunotherapeutic target has been found that retains validity in the face of tumor diversity. The transforming growth factor (TGF)-β cytokine family possesses broad biological activity and is involved in the induction and/or transdifferentiation of helper T cells, which are important in immunotherapy. Nodal is a member of the TGF-β family playing important roles in tissue stem cells and cancer stem cells (CSCs), interacting with the co-receptor Cripto-1, as well as with Activin type IB (Alk4) and Activin typeIIreceptors, and maintaining stemness and Notch and Wnt/β-catenin signaling in CSCs. In recent years, it has been reported that Cripto-1 could be a potential therapeutic target in CSCs. Here, we review the accumulated literature on the molecular mechanisms by which Cripto-1 functions in CSCs and discuss the potential of Cripto-1 as an immunotherapeutic target in CSCs. Full article
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19 pages, 782 KiB  
Review
CD4+ T Cells: Multitasking Cells in the Duty of Cancer Immunotherapy
Cancers 2021, 13(4), 596; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13040596 - 03 Feb 2021
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 8179
Abstract
Cancer immunotherapy activates the immune system to specifically target malignant cells. Research has often focused on CD8+ cytotoxic T cells, as those have the capacity to eliminate tumor cells after specific recognition upon TCR-MHC class I interaction. However, CD4+ T cells have gained [...] Read more.
Cancer immunotherapy activates the immune system to specifically target malignant cells. Research has often focused on CD8+ cytotoxic T cells, as those have the capacity to eliminate tumor cells after specific recognition upon TCR-MHC class I interaction. However, CD4+ T cells have gained attention in the field, as they are not only essential to promote help to CD8+ T cells, but are also able to kill tumor cells directly (via MHC-class II dependent recognition) or indirectly (e.g., via the activation of other immune cells like macrophages). Therefore, immunotherapy approaches have shifted from only stimulating CD8+ T cells to targeting and assessing both, CD4+ and CD8+ T cell subsets. Here, we discuss the various subsets of CD4+ T cells, their plasticity and functionality, their relevance in the antitumor immune response in patients affected by cancer, and their ever-growing role in therapeutic approaches for human cancer. Full article
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15 pages, 301 KiB  
Review
Immune Therapy Resistance and Immune Escape of Tumors
Cancers 2021, 13(3), 551; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13030551 - 01 Feb 2021
Cited by 29 | Viewed by 3071
Abstract
Immune therapy approaches such as checkpoint inhibitors or adoptive cell therapy represent promising therapeutic options for cancer patients, but their efficacy is still limited, since patients frequently develop innate or acquired resistances to these therapies. Thus, one major goal is to increase the [...] Read more.
Immune therapy approaches such as checkpoint inhibitors or adoptive cell therapy represent promising therapeutic options for cancer patients, but their efficacy is still limited, since patients frequently develop innate or acquired resistances to these therapies. Thus, one major goal is to increase the efficiency of immunotherapies by overcoming tumor-induced immune suppression, which then allows for immune-mediated tumor clearance. Innate resistance to immunotherapies could be caused by a low immunogenicity of the tumor itself as well as an immune suppressive microenvironment composed of cellular, physical, or soluble factors leading to escape from immune surveillance and disease progression. So far, a number of strategies causing resistance to immunotherapy have been described in various clinical trials, which broadly overlap with the immunoediting processes of cancers. This review summarizes the novel insights in the development of resistances to immune therapy as well as different approaches that could be employed to overcome them. Full article
21 pages, 2020 KiB  
Review
Dendritic Cells: Behind the Scenes of T-Cell Infiltration into the Tumor Microenvironment
Cancers 2021, 13(3), 433; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13030433 - 23 Jan 2021
Cited by 21 | Viewed by 4671
Abstract
Tumor-infiltrating CD8+ T cells have been shown to play a crucial role in controlling tumor progression. However, the recruitment and activation of these immune cells at the tumor site are strictly dependent on several factors, including the presence of dendritic cells (DCs), [...] Read more.
Tumor-infiltrating CD8+ T cells have been shown to play a crucial role in controlling tumor progression. However, the recruitment and activation of these immune cells at the tumor site are strictly dependent on several factors, including the presence of dendritic cells (DCs), the main orchestrators of the antitumor immune responses. Among the various DC subsets, the role of cDC1s has been demonstrated in several preclinical experimental mouse models. In addition, the high density of tumor-infiltrating cDC1s has been associated with improved survival in many cancer patients. The ability of cDC1s to modulate antitumor activity depends on their interaction with other immune populations, such as NK cells. This evidence has led to the development of new strategies aimed at increasing the abundance and activity of cDC1s in tumors, thus providing attractive new avenues to enhance antitumor immunity for both established and novel anticancer immunotherapies. In this review, we provide an overview of the various subsets of DCs, focusing in particular on the role of cDC1s, their ability to interact with other intratumoral immune cells, and their prognostic significance on solid tumors. Finally, we outline key therapeutic strategies that promote the immunogenic functions of DCs in cancer immunotherapy. Full article
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15 pages, 1152 KiB  
Review
Adrenergic Signaling in Immunotherapy of Cancer: Friend or Foe?
Cancers 2021, 13(3), 394; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13030394 - 21 Jan 2021
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 3906
Abstract
The incidence of cancer is increasing worldwide, which is to a large extent related to the population’s increasing lifespan. However, lifestyle changes in the Western world are causative as well. Exercise is intrinsically associated with what one could call a “healthy life”, and [...] Read more.
The incidence of cancer is increasing worldwide, which is to a large extent related to the population’s increasing lifespan. However, lifestyle changes in the Western world are causative as well. Exercise is intrinsically associated with what one could call a “healthy life”, and physical activity is associated with a lower risk of various types of cancer. Mouse models of exercise have shown therapeutic efficacy across numerous cancer models, at least in part due to the secretion of adrenaline, which mobilizes cells of the immune system, i.e., cytotoxic T and natural killer (NK) cells, through signaling of the β-2 adrenergic receptor (β2AR). Clinical trials aiming to investigate the clinical value of exercise are ongoing. Strikingly, however, the use of β-blockers—antagonists of the very same signaling pathway—also shows signs of clinical potential in cancer therapy. Cancer cells also express β-adrenergic receptors (βARs) and signaling of the receptor is oncogenic. Moreover, there are data to suggest that β2AR signaling in T cells renders the cell functionally suppressed. In this paper, we discuss these seemingly opposing mechanisms of cancer therapy—exercise, which leads to increased β2AR signaling, and β-blocker treatment, which antagonizes that same signaling—and suggest potential mechanisms and possibilities for their combination. Full article
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17 pages, 1848 KiB  
Review
Immune Resistance in Lung Adenocarcinoma
Cancers 2021, 13(3), 384; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13030384 - 21 Jan 2021
Cited by 73 | Viewed by 4118
Abstract
Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer worldwide, imposing grievous challenges for patients and clinicians. The incidence of lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD), the main histologic subtype of lung cancer, is still increasing in current-, ex-, and even non-smokers, whereas its five-year survival rate is [...] Read more.
Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer worldwide, imposing grievous challenges for patients and clinicians. The incidence of lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD), the main histologic subtype of lung cancer, is still increasing in current-, ex-, and even non-smokers, whereas its five-year survival rate is approximately 15% as the vast majority of patients usually present with advanced disease at the time of diagnosis. The generation of novel drugs targeting key disease driver mutations has created optimism for the treatment of LUAD, but, as these mutations are not universal, this therapeutic line benefits only a subset of patients. More recently, the advent of targeted immunotherapies and their documented clinical efficacy in many different cancers, including LUAD, have started to change cancer management. Immunotherapies have been developed in order to overcome the cancer’s ability to develop mechanisms of immune resistance, i.e., to adapt to and evade the host inflammatory and immune responses. Identifying a cancer’s immune resistance mechanisms will likely advance the development of personalized immunotherapies. This review examines the key pathways of immune resistance at play in LUAD and explores therapeutic strategies which can unleash potent antitumor immune responses and significantly improve therapeutic efficacy, quality of life, and survival in LUAD. Full article
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16 pages, 321 KiB  
Review
The Sarcoma Immune Landscape: Emerging Challenges, Prognostic Significance and Prospective Impact for Immunotherapy Approaches
Cancers 2021, 13(3), 363; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13030363 - 20 Jan 2021
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 2441
Abstract
Despite significant advances in multidisciplinary treatment strategies including surgery, radiotherapy, targeted therapy and chemotherapy there are yet no substantial improvements in the clinical benefit of patients with sarcomas. Current understanding of the underlying cellular and molecular pathways which govern the dynamic interactions between [...] Read more.
Despite significant advances in multidisciplinary treatment strategies including surgery, radiotherapy, targeted therapy and chemotherapy there are yet no substantial improvements in the clinical benefit of patients with sarcomas. Current understanding of the underlying cellular and molecular pathways which govern the dynamic interactions between the tumor stroma, tumor cells and immune infiltrates in sarcoma tissues, led to the clinical development of new therapeutic options based on immunotherapies. Moreover, progress of the treatment of sarcomas also depends on the identification of biomarkers with prognostic and predictive values for selecting patients most likely to benefit from these new therapeutic treatments and also serving as potent therapeutic targets. Novel combinations with radiotherapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, vaccines, CAR-T cells and treatments targeting other immune components of the tumor microenvironment are underway aiming to bypass known resistance mechanisms. This review focuses on the role of tumor microenvironment in sarcoma, prognosis and response to novel immunotherapies. Full article
23 pages, 1012 KiB  
Review
Immunotherapy as a Precision Medicine Tool for the Treatment of Prostate Cancer
Cancers 2021, 13(2), 173; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13020173 - 06 Jan 2021
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 3507
Abstract
Prostate cancer (PCa) is the most frequently diagnosed type of cancer among Caucasian males over the age of 60 and is characterized by remarkable heterogeneity and clinical behavior, ranging from decades of indolence to highly lethal disease. Despite the significant progress in PCa [...] Read more.
Prostate cancer (PCa) is the most frequently diagnosed type of cancer among Caucasian males over the age of 60 and is characterized by remarkable heterogeneity and clinical behavior, ranging from decades of indolence to highly lethal disease. Despite the significant progress in PCa systemic therapy, therapeutic response is usually transient, and invasive disease is associated with high mortality rates. Immunotherapy has emerged as an efficacious and non-toxic treatment alternative that perfectly fits the rationale of precision medicine, as it aims to treat patients on the basis of patient-specific, immune-targeted molecular traits, so as to achieve the maximum clinical benefit. Antibodies acting as immune checkpoint inhibitors and vaccines entailing tumor-specific antigens seem to be the most promising immunotherapeutic strategies in offering a significant survival advantage. Even though patients with localized disease and favorable prognostic characteristics seem to be the ones that markedly benefit from such interventions, there is substantial evidence to suggest that the survival benefit may also be extended to patients with more advanced disease. The identification of biomarkers that can be immunologically targeted in patients with disease progression is potentially amenable in this process and in achieving significant advances in the decision for precision treatment of PCa. Full article
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23 pages, 678 KiB  
Review
Stromal Protein-Mediated Immune Regulation in Digestive Cancers
Cancers 2021, 13(1), 146; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13010146 - 05 Jan 2021
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 4073
Abstract
The stromal tumor microenvironment (TME) consists of immune cells, vascular and neural structures, cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), as well as extracellular matrix (ECM), and favors immune escape mechanisms promoting the initiation and progression of digestive cancers. Numerous ECM proteins released by stromal and tumor [...] Read more.
The stromal tumor microenvironment (TME) consists of immune cells, vascular and neural structures, cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), as well as extracellular matrix (ECM), and favors immune escape mechanisms promoting the initiation and progression of digestive cancers. Numerous ECM proteins released by stromal and tumor cells are crucial in providing physical rigidity to the TME, though they are also key regulators of the immune response against cancer cells by interacting directly with immune cells or engaging with immune regulatory molecules. Here, we discuss current knowledge of stromal proteins in digestive cancers including pancreatic cancer, colorectal cancer, and gastric cancer, focusing on their functions in inhibiting tumor immunity and enabling drug resistance. Moreover, we will discuss the implication of stromal proteins as therapeutic targets to unleash efficient immunotherapy-based treatments. Full article
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30 pages, 2929 KiB  
Review
The Role of Antigen Processing and Presentation in Cancer and the Efficacy of Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor Immunotherapy
Cancers 2021, 13(1), 134; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13010134 - 04 Jan 2021
Cited by 63 | Viewed by 6235
Abstract
Recent clinical successes of cancer immunotherapy using immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) are rapidly changing the landscape of cancer treatment. Regardless of initial impressive clinical results though, the therapeutic benefit of ICIs appears to be limited to a subset of patients and tumor types. [...] Read more.
Recent clinical successes of cancer immunotherapy using immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) are rapidly changing the landscape of cancer treatment. Regardless of initial impressive clinical results though, the therapeutic benefit of ICIs appears to be limited to a subset of patients and tumor types. Recent analyses have revealed that the potency of ICI therapies depends on the efficient presentation of tumor-specific antigens by cancer cells and professional antigen presenting cells. Here, we review current knowledge on the role of antigen presentation in cancer. We focus on intracellular antigen processing and presentation by Major Histocompatibility class I (MHCI) molecules and how it can affect cancer immune evasion. Finally, we discuss the pharmacological tractability of manipulating intracellular antigen processing as a complementary approach to enhance tumor immunogenicity and the effectiveness of ICI immunotherapy. Full article
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19 pages, 4346 KiB  
Review
Shifting the Immune-Suppressive to Predominant Immune-Stimulatory Radiation Effects by SBRT-PArtial Tumor Irradiation Targeting HYpoxic Segment (SBRT-PATHY)
Cancers 2021, 13(1), 50; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13010050 - 26 Dec 2020
Cited by 23 | Viewed by 3337
Abstract
Radiation-induced immune-mediated abscopal effects (AE) of conventional radiotherapy are very rare. Whole-tumor irradiation leads to lymphopenia due to killing of immune cells in the tumor microenvironment, resulting in immunosuppression and weak abscopal potential. This limitation may be overcome by partial tumor irradiation sparing [...] Read more.
Radiation-induced immune-mediated abscopal effects (AE) of conventional radiotherapy are very rare. Whole-tumor irradiation leads to lymphopenia due to killing of immune cells in the tumor microenvironment, resulting in immunosuppression and weak abscopal potential. This limitation may be overcome by partial tumor irradiation sparing the peritumoral immune-environment, and consequent shifting of immune-suppressive to immune-stimulatory effect. This would improve the radiation-directed tumor cell killing, adding to it a component of immune-mediated killing. Our preclinical findings showed that the high-single-dose irradiation of hypoxic tumor cells generates a stronger bystander effect (BE) and AE than the normoxic cells, suggesting their higher “immunogenic potential”. This led to the development of a novel Stereotactic Body RadioTherapy (SBRT)-based PArtial Tumor irradiation targeting HYpoxic segment (SBRT-PATHY) for induction of the immune-mediated BE and AE. Encouraging SBRT-PATHY-clinical outcomes, together with immunohistochemical and gene-expression analyses of surgically removed abscopal-tumor sites, suggested that delivery of the high-dose radiation to the partial (hypoxic) tumor volume, with optimal timing based on the homeostatic fluctuation of the immune response and sparing the peritumoral immune-environment, would significantly enhance the immune-mediated anti-tumor effects. This review discusses the current evidence on the safety and efficacy of SBRT-PATHY in the treatment of unresectable hypoxic bulky tumors and its bystander and abscopal immunomodulatory potential. Full article
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36 pages, 1241 KiB  
Review
Primary and Acquired Resistance to Immunotherapy in Lung Cancer: Unveiling the Mechanisms Underlying of Immune Checkpoint Blockade Therapy
Cancers 2020, 12(12), 3729; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12123729 - 11 Dec 2020
Cited by 46 | Viewed by 8900
Abstract
After several decades without maintained responses or long-term survival of patients with lung cancer, novel therapies have emerged as a hopeful milestone in this research field. The appearance of immunotherapy, especially immune checkpoint inhibitors, has improved both the overall survival and quality of [...] Read more.
After several decades without maintained responses or long-term survival of patients with lung cancer, novel therapies have emerged as a hopeful milestone in this research field. The appearance of immunotherapy, especially immune checkpoint inhibitors, has improved both the overall survival and quality of life of patients, many of whom are diagnosed late when classical treatments are ineffective. Despite these unprecedented results, a high percentage of patients do not respond initially to treatment or relapse after a period of response. This is due to resistance mechanisms, which require understanding in order to prevent them and develop strategies to overcome them and increase the number of patients who can benefit from immunotherapy. This review highlights the current knowledge of the mechanisms and their involvement in resistance to immunotherapy in lung cancer, such as aberrations in tumor neoantigen burden, effector T-cell infiltration in the tumor microenvironment (TME), epigenetic modulation, the transcriptional signature, signaling pathways, T-cell exhaustion, and the microbiome. Further research dissecting intratumor and host heterogeneity is necessary to provide answers regarding the immunotherapy response and develop more effective treatments for lung cancer. Full article
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30 pages, 2558 KiB  
Review
Targeting Tumor-Associated Macrophages to Increase the Efficacy of Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors: A Glimpse into Novel Therapeutic Approaches for Metastatic Melanoma
Cancers 2020, 12(11), 3401; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12113401 - 17 Nov 2020
Cited by 38 | Viewed by 3849
Abstract
Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) represent a promising therapeutic intervention for a variety of advanced/metastatic solid tumors, including melanoma, but in a large number of cases, patients fail to establish a sustained anti-tumor immunity and to achieve a long-lasting clinical benefit. Cells of the [...] Read more.
Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) represent a promising therapeutic intervention for a variety of advanced/metastatic solid tumors, including melanoma, but in a large number of cases, patients fail to establish a sustained anti-tumor immunity and to achieve a long-lasting clinical benefit. Cells of the tumor micro-environment such as tumor-associated M2 macrophages (M2-TAMs) have been reported to limit the efficacy of immunotherapy, promoting tumor immune evasion and progression. Thus, strategies targeting M2-TAMs have been suggested to synergize with immune checkpoint blockade. This review recapitulates the molecular mechanisms by which M2-TAMs promote cancer immune evasion, with focus on the potential cross-talk between pharmacological interventions targeting M2-TAMs and ICIs for melanoma treatment. Full article
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15 pages, 5762 KiB  
Review
Exploring Essential Issues for Improving Therapeutic Cancer Vaccine Trial Design
Cancers 2020, 12(10), 2908; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12102908 - 10 Oct 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2821
Abstract
Therapeutic cancer vaccines have been at the forefront of cancer immunotherapy for more than 20 years, with promising results in phase I and—in some cases—phase II clinical trials, but with failures in large phase III studies. After dozens of clinical studies, only Dendreon’s [...] Read more.
Therapeutic cancer vaccines have been at the forefront of cancer immunotherapy for more than 20 years, with promising results in phase I and—in some cases—phase II clinical trials, but with failures in large phase III studies. After dozens of clinical studies, only Dendreon’s dendritic cell vaccine Sipuleucel-T has succeeded in receiving US FDA approval for the treatment of metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer. Although scientists working on cancer immunotherapy feel that this is an essential breakthrough for the field, they still expect that new vaccine regimens will yield better clinical benefits compared to the four months prolonged median overall survival (OS) Sipuleucel-T demonstrated in the IMPACT phase III clinical trial. Clinical development of cancer vaccines has been unsuccessful due to failures either in randomized phase II or—even worse—phase III trials. Thus, rigorous re-evaluation of these trials is urgently required in order to redefine aspects and optimize the benefits offered by therapeutic cancer vaccines. The scope of this review is to provide to the reader our thoughts on the key challenges in maximizing the therapeutic potentials of cancer vaccines, with a special focus on issues that touch upon clinical trial design. Full article
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21 pages, 1234 KiB  
Review
Innovative CAR-T Cell Therapy for Solid Tumor; Current Duel between CAR-T Spear and Tumor Shield
Cancers 2020, 12(8), 2087; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12082087 - 28 Jul 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 4900
Abstract
Novel engineered T cells containing chimeric antigen receptors (CAR-T cells) that combine the benefits of antigen recognition and T cell response have been developed, and their effect in the anti-tumor immunotherapy of patients with relapsed/refractory leukemia has been dramatic. Thus, CAR-T cell immunotherapy [...] Read more.
Novel engineered T cells containing chimeric antigen receptors (CAR-T cells) that combine the benefits of antigen recognition and T cell response have been developed, and their effect in the anti-tumor immunotherapy of patients with relapsed/refractory leukemia has been dramatic. Thus, CAR-T cell immunotherapy is rapidly emerging as a new therapy. However, it has limitations that prevent consistency in therapeutic effects in solid tumors, which accounts for over 90% of all cancer patients. Here, we review the literature regarding various obstacles to CAR-T cell immunotherapy for solid tumors, including those that cause CAR-T cell dysfunction in the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment, such as reactive oxygen species, pH, O2, immunosuppressive cells, cytokines, and metabolites, as well as those that impair cell trafficking into the tumor microenvironment. Next-generation CAR-T cell therapy is currently undergoing clinical trials to overcome these challenges. Therefore, novel approaches to address the challenges faced by CAR-T cell immunotherapy in solid tumors are also discussed here. Full article
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22 pages, 1075 KiB  
Review
Molecular Mechanisms and Potential Therapeutic Reversal of Pancreatic Cancer-Induced Immune Evasion
Cancers 2020, 12(7), 1872; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12071872 - 11 Jul 2020
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 5421
Abstract
Pancreatic cancer ranks high among the causes of cancer-related mortality. The prognosis of this grim condition has not improved significantly over the past 50 years, despite advancement in imaging techniques, cancer genetics and treatment modalities. Due to the relative difficulty in the early [...] Read more.
Pancreatic cancer ranks high among the causes of cancer-related mortality. The prognosis of this grim condition has not improved significantly over the past 50 years, despite advancement in imaging techniques, cancer genetics and treatment modalities. Due to the relative difficulty in the early detection of pancreatic tumors, as low as 20% of patients are eligible for potentially curative surgery; moreover, chemotherapy and radiotherapy (RT) do not confer a great benefit in the overall survival of the patients. Currently, emerging developments in immunotherapy have yet to bring a significant clinical advantage among pancreatic cancer patients. In fact, pancreatic tumor-driven immune evasion possesses one of the greatest challenges leading to immunotherapeutic resistance. Most of the immune escape pathways are innate, while poor priming of hosts’ immune response and immunoediting constitute the adaptive immunosuppressive machinery. In this review, we extensively discuss the pathway perturbations undermining the anti-tumor immunity specific to pancreatic cancer. We also explore feasible up-and-coming therapeutic strategies that may restore immunity and address therapeutic resistance, bringing hope to eliminate the status quo in pancreatic cancer prognosis. Full article
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38 pages, 3202 KiB  
Review
Advances in Anti-Cancer Immunotherapy: Car-T Cell, Checkpoint Inhibitors, Dendritic Cell Vaccines, and Oncolytic Viruses, and Emerging Cellular and Molecular Targets
Cancers 2020, 12(7), 1826; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12071826 - 07 Jul 2020
Cited by 43 | Viewed by 8231
Abstract
Unlike traditional cancer therapies, such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy that are typically non-specific, cancer immunotherapy harnesses the high specificity of a patient’s own immune system to selectively kill cancer cells. The immune system is the body’s main cancer surveillance system, but cancers [...] Read more.
Unlike traditional cancer therapies, such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy that are typically non-specific, cancer immunotherapy harnesses the high specificity of a patient’s own immune system to selectively kill cancer cells. The immune system is the body’s main cancer surveillance system, but cancers may evade destruction thanks to various immune-suppressing mechanisms. We therefore need to deploy various immunotherapy-based strategies to help bolster the anti-tumour immune responses. These include engineering T cells to express chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) to specifically recognise tumour neoantigens, inactivating immune checkpoints, oncolytic viruses and dendritic cell (DC) vaccines, which have all shown clinical benefit in certain cancers. However, treatment efficacy remains poor due to drug-induced adverse events and immunosuppressive tendencies of the tumour microenvironment. Recent preclinical studies have unveiled novel therapies such as anti-cathepsin antibodies, galectin-1 blockade and anti-OX40 agonistic antibodies, which may be utilised as adjuvant therapies to modulate the tumour microenvironment and permit more ferocious anti-tumour immune response. Full article
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