Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 75, Issue 22, pp 4163–4176 | Cite as

Epigenetic mechanisms of tumor resistance to immunotherapy

  • Natalia Arenas-RamirezEmail author
  • Dilara Sahin
  • Onur BoymanEmail author


The recent impact of cancer immunotherapies has firmly established the ability and importance of the immune system to fight malignancies. However, the intimate interaction between the highly dynamic tumor and immune cells leads to a selection process driven by genetic and epigenetic processes. As the molecular pathways of cancer resistance mechanisms to immunotherapy become increasingly known, novel therapeutic targets are being tested in combination with immune-stimulating approaches. We here review recent insights into the molecular mechanisms of tumor resistance with particular emphasis on epigenetic processes and place these in the context of previous models.


EZH2 EED PRC2 Tumor escape Immunogenicity Checkpoint inhibitor PD-1 CTLA-4 Cytokine IL-2 



We thank Catherine Crowley-Kühn for critical reading of the manuscript. This work was funded by the Sassella Foundation (to N. A. R.), Swiss National Science Foundation Grant 310030-172978 (to O. B.), Swiss Cancer Research Grant KFS-4136-02-2017 (to O. B.), and Hochspezialisierte Medizin Schwerpunkt Immunologie (HSM-2-Immunologie; to O. B.).


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ImmunologyUniversity Hospital ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Faculty of MedicineUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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