Tumor immune surveillance and ovarian cancer: lessons on immune mediated tumor rejection or tolerance

Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2011 Mar;30(1):141-51. doi: 10.1007/s10555-011-9289-9.


In the past few years, cancer immunotherapies have produced promising results. Although traditionally considered unresponsive to immune therapy, increasing evidence indicates that ovarian cancers are, in fact, immunogenic tumors. This evidence comes from diverse epidemiologic and clinical data comprising evidence of spontaneous antitumor immune response and its association with longer survival in a proportion of ovarian cancer patients; evidence of tumor immune evasion mechanisms and their association with short survival in some ovarian cancer patients; and finally pilot data supporting the efficacy of immune therapy. Below we will discuss lessons learned on the biology underlying ovarian cancer immune rejection or tolerance and we will discuss its association with clinical outcome. We will discuss the role of angiogenesis and the tumor endothelium on regulation of the antitumor immune response with a special emphasis on the role of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in the suppression of immunological processes, which control tumor progression and its unique crosstalk with endothelin systems, and how their interactions may shape the antitumor immune response. In addition, we will discuss mechanisms of tumor tolerance through the suppression or exhaustion of effector cells and how these could be countered in the clinic. We believe that understanding these pathways in the tumor microenvironment will lead to novel strategies for enhancing ovarian cancer immunotherapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, CD / immunology
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins / immunology
  • Endothelial Cells / immunology
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance*
  • Immunologic Surveillance / immunology*
  • Indoleamine-Pyrrole 2,3,-Dioxygenase / immunology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor
  • Signal Transduction / immunology
  • Tumor Escape*
  • Tumor Microenvironment / immunology


  • Antigens, CD
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • Indoleamine-Pyrrole 2,3,-Dioxygenase
  • PDCD1 protein, human
  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor