The complexity of the tumor immunoenvironment is underscored by the emergence and discovery of different subsets of immune effectors and regulatory cells. Tumor-induced polarization of immune cell differentiation and function makes this unique environment even more intricate and variable. Dendritic cells (DCs) represent a special group of cells that display different phenotype and activity at the tumor site and exhibit differential pro-tumorigenic and anti-tumorigenic functions. DCs play a key role in inducing and maintaining the antitumor immunity, but in the tumor environment their antigen-presenting function may be lost or inefficient. DCs might be also polarized into immunosuppressive/tolerogenic regulatory DCs, which limit activity of effector T cells and support tumor growth and progression. Although various factors and signaling pathways have been described to be responsible for abnormal functioning of DCs in cancer, there are still no feasible therapeutic modalities available for preventing or reversing DC malfunction in tumor-bearing hosts. Thus, better understanding of DC immunobiology in cancer is pivotal for designing novel or improved therapeutic approaches that will allow proper functioning of DCs in patients with cancer.
Keywords: dendritic cells; immunosuppression; regulatory dendritic cells; tumor escape.; tumor microenvironment.