Immunotherapy targeting colon cancer stem cells

Immunotherapy. 2011 Jan;3(1):97-106. doi: 10.2217/imt.10.87.


In the last 10 years, cancer stem cells have interested the scientific community because this small tumorigenic population is also associated with tumor progression in human patients and specific targeting of cancer stem cells could be a strategy to eradicate cancers currently resistant to conventional therapy. Clinical studies have recently demonstrated that adding immune therapy to chemotherapy has survival benefits in comparison with chemotherapy alone that can sensitize tumors to immune cell-mediated killing (e.g., increasing sensitivity of tumor cells to subsequent cytotoxicity by T cells via upregulation of death receptors DR5 and Fas). However, loss of MHC molecules is often observed in cancer cells, rendering tumor cells resistant to CD8 T-cell-mediated cytotoxicity. For this reason, we review the role of other T-cell subsets, such as γδ T and NK cells that are able to efficiently recognize and kill tumor cells and that could be used in passive or active immunotherapy in cancer stem cell eradication.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Colonic Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / immunology*
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta / metabolism*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology


  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta