Cytokines and antitumor immunity

Technol Cancer Res Treat. 2003 Jun;2(3):183-94. doi: 10.1177/153303460300200302.


Currently, the notion of immunosurveillance against tumors is enjoying something of a renaissance. Even if we still refuse to accept that tumors arising in the normal host are unable to trigger an immune response because of the lack of initiation ("danger") signals, there is no doubt that the immune system can be manipulated experimentally and by implication therapeutically to exert anti-tumor effects. For this activity to be successful, the appropriate cytokine milieu has to be provided, making cytokine manipulation central to immunotherapy. On the other hand, the major hurdle currently preventing successful immunotherapy is the ability of tumors to evolve resistant variants under the pressure of immune selection. Here, too, the cytokine milieu plays an essential role. The purpose of this brief review is to consider the current status of the application of cytokines in facilitating antitumor immunity, as well their role in inhibiting responses to tumors. Clearly, encouraging the former but preventing the latter will be the key to the effective clinical application of cancer immunotherapy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cancer Vaccines / therapeutic use
  • Cytokines / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Models, Immunological
  • Neoplasms / immunology*


  • Cancer Vaccines
  • Cytokines