Cancer immunotherapy: co-stimulatory agonists and co-inhibitory antagonists

Clin Exp Immunol. 2009 Jul;157(1):9-19. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.2009.03912.x. Epub 2009 Feb 18.


The generation and maintenance of immune responses are controlled by both co-stimulatory and co-inhibitory signalling through T cell co-receptors, many of which belong to the immunoglobulin-like superfamily or the tumour necrosis factor receptor superfamily. Agonistic or antagonistic monoclonal antibodies targeting these co-receptors have the potential to enhance immunity. Furthermore, their activity on the immunosuppressive regulatory T cell populations which are prevalent within many tumours provides an additional rationale for their use as anti-cancer therapies. This review summarizes the interactions between cancer and the immune system, highlighting the ways in which these new classes of immunostimulatory antibodies might enhance anti-tumour immunity and summarizing early clinical experience with their use.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use
  • Antigens, CD / immunology
  • CTLA-4 Antigen
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins / immunology
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / immunology


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antigens, CD
  • CTLA-4 Antigen
  • CTLA4 protein, human
  • Immunoglobulins
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha