The host immunological response to cancer therapy: An emerging concept in tumor biology

Exp Cell Res. 2013 Jul 1;319(11):1687-95. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2013.03.007. Epub 2013 Mar 19.


Almost any type of anti-cancer treatment including chemotherapy, radiation, surgery and targeted drugs can induce host molecular and cellular immunological effects which, in turn, can lead to tumor outgrowth and relapse despite an initial successful therapy outcome. Tumor relapse due to host immunological effects is attributed to angiogenesis, tumor cell dissemination from the primary tumors and seeding at metastatic sites. This short review will describe the types of host cells that participate in this process, the types of factors secreted from the host following therapy that can promote tumor re-growth, and the possible implications of this unique and yet only partially-known process. It is postulated that blocking these specific immunological effects in the reactive host in response to cancer therapy may aid in identifying new host-dependent targets for cancer, which in combination with conventional treatments can prolong therapy efficacy and extend survival. Additional studies investigating this specific research direction-both in preclinical models and in the clinical setting are essential in order to advance our understanding of how tumors relapse and evade therapy.

Keywords: Angiogenesis; Bone marrow derived cells; Chemotherapy; Inflammatory cytokines; Tumor cell repopulation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy*
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Tumor Microenvironment / immunology*