Reversal of Tumor-Induced Immunosuppression: A New Approach to Cancer Therapy


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Abstract

Summary:Many studies show defective immune responses in patients diagnosed with cancer. Most of the diverse nonspecific approaches used to stimulate the immune system to recognize and destroy abnormal tumor cells have limited clinical utility. Attempts to identify tumor-specific antigens and to improve the antigen presentation were equally disappointing. It appears that some of these failures can be explained by tumor-induced immunosuppression. A large number of cytokines, hormones, and other molecules secreted by tumors were demonstrated to have immunomodulating properties. The most extensively studied immunosuppressive molecules secreted by tumors are transforming growth factor-β (TGFβ), interleukin 10 (IL-10), and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). TGFβ in particular may play a key role in tumor-induced immunosuppression. It is the most potent immunosuppressor described to date, and it has been consistently isolated from variety of tumor cell lines and detected in plasma of tumor-bearing hosts. Level of TGFβ production by tumor cells correlates with their metastatic potential, and TGFβ neutralization not only prevents development of metastases, but also inhibits growth or completely eradicates tumors as diverse as breast cancer, melanoma, and malignant gliosarcoma in animal models. PGE2 may play significant role in early stages of tumor development, promoting the process of tumorigenesis in some tumors. Research on reversal of tumor-induced immunosuppression promises new, more powerful, and less toxic approaches to cancer therapy. Existence of molecule(s) consistently secreted by different types of tumors and responsible for tumor progression raises the possibility of a single, universal assay to monitor progression and recurrence in many malignancies, including those that currently do not have reliable plasma markers.

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