The anticancer immune response: indispensable for therapeutic success?

J Clin Invest. 2008 Jun;118(6):1991-2001. doi: 10.1172/JCI35180.


Although the impact of tumor immunology on the clinical management of most cancers is still negligible, there is increasing evidence that anticancer immune responses may contribute to the control of cancer after conventional chemotherapy. Thus, radiotherapy and some chemotherapeutic agents, in particular anthracyclines, can induce specific immune responses that result either in immunogenic cancer cell death or in immunostimulatory side effects. This anticancer immune response then helps to eliminate residual cancer cells (those that fail to be killed by chemotherapy) or maintains micrometastases in a stage of dormancy. Based on these premises, in this Review we address the question, How may it be possible to ameliorate conventional therapies by stimulating the anticancer immune response? Moreover, we discuss the rationale of clinical trials to evaluate and eventually increase the contribution of antitumor immune responses to the therapeutic management of neoplasia.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / metabolism*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Biotechnology / methods
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Combined Modality Therapy / methods
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Humans
  • Immune System
  • Immunotherapy / methods
  • Medical Oncology / methods
  • Mice
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*


  • Antineoplastic Agents