Tumor-Induced Immune Suppression and Immune Escape

Mechanisms and Impact on the Outcome of Immunotherapy of Malignant Disease
  • Michael Campoli
  • Soldano Ferrone
Part of the Cancer Drug Discovery and Development book series (CDD&D)


A large body of evidence supports the notion that both the adaptive and nonadaptive immune systems play an important role in the control of tumor progression in patients with malignant disease. These findings have provided the rationale for the development of active specific immunotherapy for the treatment of malignant disease. The enthusiastic application of active specific immunotherapy in a large number of patients has conclusively shown that:
  1. 1.

    Several of the immunization strategies used elicit a tumor antigen (TA)-specific immune response.

  2. 2.

    The results of immunomonitoring assays in patients treated with active specific immunotherapy have poor, if any, predictive value of clinical responses.

  3. 3.

    Irrespective of the TA or immunization strategy used, clinical responses have only occasionally been observed.

  4. 4.

    Disease frequently progresses and recurs in spite of induction and/or persistence of TA-specific immune responses.


These disappointing findings are likely to reflect, at least in part, the ability of tumor cells to manipulate the ongoing TA-specific immune response as well as evade immune recognition and destruction, utilizing multiple mechanisms. The latter include tumor cell-induced qualitative and/or quantitative defects in the generation and maintenance of TA-specific immune responses, tumor cell-induced immune suppression, and/or changes in the antigenic profile of tumor cells because of their genetic instability. These topics are reviewed in this chapter, following a brief description of the essential components of a TA-specific immune response. Lastly, potential strategies to counteract tumor immune suppression and immune escape mechanisms are discussed, because these approaches may improve the outcome of immunotherapy in patients with malignant disease.

Key Words

CTL dendritic cells HLA class I antigens immune escape immune suppression NK cells tumor antigens 


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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc., Totowa, NJ 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Campoli
    • 1
  • Soldano Ferrone
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ImmunologyRoswell Park Cancer InstituteBuffalo

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