Anti-cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen-4 antibody: the first in an emerging class of immunomodulatory antibodies for cancer treatment

J Clin Oncol. 2008 Nov 10;26(32):5275-83. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2008.17.8954. Epub 2008 Oct 6.


Purpose: To evaluate the emerging role of immunomodulatory antibodies in cancer treatment. Antibodies (ipilimumab and tremelimumab) targeting cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen-4 (CTLA-4), an inhibitory molecule on T cells, represent the vanguard of these new drugs.

Design: We performed a systematic review of the clinical studies examining the clinical activity of anti-CTLA-4 antibodies. We also review the potential mechanisms and toxicities associated with these treatments.

Results: Clinical activity with anti-CTLA-4 monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) has paved the way for additional T-cell immunomodulatory monoclonal antibody (mAb) approaches for the treatment of cancer to be investigated. Because anti-CTLA-4 mAbs target the immune system and not the tumor, they may provide significant potential advantages over traditional antitumor mAbs, chemotherapies, and immunotherapies (ie, vaccines and cytokines). Other antibodies, such as CD137 agonists, CD40 agonists, and PD-1 antagonists, are currently in various stages of preclinical and clinical development.

Conclusion: Available clinical data suggest that anti-CTLA-4 mAbs are very different from traditional mAbs, chemotherapies, and immunotherapies in terms of patterns of response, duration of response, and adverse event profile. Ongoing clinical studies aim to establish the efficacy and safety of anti-CTLA-4 mAbs as monotherapy or in combination with other drugs for the treatment of metastatic melanoma and a variety of other cancer types.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / adverse effects
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antigens, CD / immunology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • CTLA-4 Antigen
  • Humans
  • Ipilimumab
  • Melanoma / drug therapy*
  • Melanoma / immunology
  • Melanoma / pathology
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / immunology
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / pathology
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antigens, CD
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • CTLA-4 Antigen
  • CTLA4 protein, human
  • Ipilimumab
  • tremelimumab