Trial watch: Chemotherapy with immunogenic cell death inducers

Oncoimmunology. 2012 Mar 1;1(2):179-188. doi: 10.4161/onci.1.2.19026.


The long-established notion that apoptosis would be immunologically silent, and hence it would go unnoticed by the immune system, if not tolerogenic, and hence it would actively suppress immune responses, has recently been revisited. In some instances, indeed, cancer cells undergo apoptosis while emitting a spatiotemporally-defined combination of signals that renders them capable of eliciting a long-term protective antitumor immune response. Importantly, only a few anticancer agents can stimulate such an immunogenic cell death. These include cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin and oxaliplatin, which are currently approved by FDA for the treatment of multiple hematologic and solid malignancies, as well as mitoxantrone, which is being used in cancer therapy and against multiple sclerosis. In this Trial Watch, we will review and discuss the progress of recent (initiated after January 2008) clinical trials evaluating the off-label use of cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, oxaliplatin and mitoxantrone.