Immunol Endocr Metab Agents Med Chem. 2012 Sep;12(3):224-235. doi: 10.2174/187152212802001875.


One of the key roles of the immune system is the identification of potentially dangerous pathogens or tumour cells, and raising a wide range of mechanisms to eliminate them from the organism. One of these mechanisms is activation and expansion of antigen-specific cytotoxic T cells, after recognition of antigenic peptides on the surface of antigen presenting cells such as dendritic cells (DCs). However, DCs also process and present autoantigens. Therefore, antigen presentation has to occur in the appropriate context to either trigger immune responses or establishing immunological tolerance. This is achieved by co-stimulation of T cells during antigen presentation. Co-stimulation consists on the simultaneous binding of ligand-receptor molecules at the immunological synapse which will determine the type and extent of T cell responses. In addition, the type of cytokines/chemokines present during antigen presentation will influence the polarisation of T cell responses, whether they lead to tolerance, antibody responses or cytotoxicity. In this review, we will focus on approaches manipulating co-stimulation during antigen presentation, and the role of cytokine stimulation on effective T cell responses. More specifically, we will address the experimental strategies to interfere with negative co-stimulation such as that mediated by PD-L1 (Programmed cell death 1 ligand 1)/PD-1 (Programmed death 1) to enhance anti-tumour immunity.