Glioma immunology and immunotherapy

Neurosurgery. 2000 Apr;46(4):778-91; discussion 791-2. doi: 10.1097/00006123-200004000-00002.


Objective: Despite advances in conventional therapy, the prognosis for most glioma patients remains dismal. This has prompted an intensive search for effective treatment alternatives. Immunotherapy, one such alternative, has long been recognized as a potentially potent cancer treatment but has been limited by an inadequate understanding of the immune system. Now, increased insight into immunology is suggesting more rational approaches to immunotherapy. In this article, we explore key aspects of modern immunology and discuss their implications for glioma therapy.

Methods: A thorough literature review of glioma immunology and immunotherapy was undertaken to inquire into the basic immunology, central nervous system immunology, glioma immunobiology, standard glioma immunotherapy, and recent immunotherapeutic advances in glioma treatment.

Results: Although gliomas express tumor-associated antigens and appear potentially sensitive to immune responses, many factors work together to inhibit antiglioma immunity. Not surprisingly, most clinical attempts at glioma immunotherapy have met with little success to date. However, novel immunostimulatory strategies, such as immunogene therapy, directed cytokine delivery, and dendritic cell manipulation, have recently yielded dramatic preclinical results in glioma models. This suggests that glioma-derived immunosuppression can be overcome.

Conclusion: Modern molecular biology and immunology techniques have yielded a wealth of new data about glioma immunobiology. Armed with this information, many investigators have proposed novel means to stimulate antiglioma immune responses. Although definitive clinical results remain to be seen, the current renaissance in glioma immunology and immunotherapy shows great promise for the future.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cancer Vaccines / therapeutic use
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Glioma / immunology*
  • Glioma / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy* / methods
  • Immunotherapy* / trends


  • Cancer Vaccines