Cancer and pregnancy share similar mechanisms of immunological escape

Chemotherapy. 2006;52(3):107-10. doi: 10.1159/000092537. Epub 2006 Apr 4.


Background: Despite the fact that trophoblasts and cancer are both immunogenic, they are able to escape from host immunosurveillance, and the precise mechanisms involved in this process are surprisingly similar in both situations.

Methods: A literature review of studies on immunological changes occurring during normal pregnancy and cancer was performed.

Results: Loss or downregulation of classical HLA antigens as well as the presence of non-classical HLA-G molecules, a Th2 cytokine activity shift, secretion of immunosuppressive factors and blocking antibodies and finally induction of apoptosis in immunocytes seem to be the most effective mechanisms of immunological escape in pregnancy and cancer.

Conclusions: The process of immunological escape in cancer and pregnancy is based on similar mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • HLA Antigens / immunology
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Pregnancy / immunology*
  • Trophoblasts / immunology
  • Tumor Escape / immunology*


  • HLA Antigens