Ovarian Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy



Epithelial ovarian cancer is a common cancer in women and prognosis from the disease remains poor. Although conventional treatments play a major role in its management, new therapies are required in order to improve disease control and survival. The immune system protects us from developing cancer but once ovarian cancer is established, it employs elaborate pathways to circumvent the immune system. Immune suppression in the form of defective antigen presentation and effector cell anergy are whole marks of ovarian cancer much of which is initiated by tumour cells or by associated suppressive antigen-presenting cells. Recently much research has been carried out to improve our understanding of these suppressive pathways. The balance between T-regulatory cells and effector cytotoxic T-cells remains a key factor in prognosis from this cancer. More recently suppressive monocytes and macrophages have been implicated in T-cell suppression mediated by a number of cell surface molecules such as B7-H1 or enzymes such as arginase. Inflammation may be important in mediating suppression or defective response to treatment. Novel immune therapies have endeavoured to address immune suppression alone or in combination with immune activating treatments such as anti-CTLA-4 antibody therapy in combination with peptide vaccination. Further research is required in order to produce safe and effective immunotherapies to complement chemotherapeutic and surgical treatments.


Immunology ovarian cancer Immunotherapy ovarian cancer Ovary immunology 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Gynaecological OncologyHammersmith Hospitals TrustLondonUK
  2. 2.The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and The Institute of Cancer ResearchLondonUK

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