Pattern response of dendritic cells in the tumor microenvironment and breast cancer

World J Clin Oncol. 2014 Aug 10;5(3):495-502. doi: 10.5306/wjco.v5.i3.495.


Breast cancer (BC) is the most common malignant neoplasm and the cause of death by cancer among women worldwide. Its development, including malignancy grade and patient prognosis, is influenced by various mutations that occur in the tumor cell and by the immune system's status, which has a direct influence on the tumor microenvironment and, consequently, on interactions with non-tumor cells involved in the immunological response. Among the immune response cells, dendritic cells (DCs) play a key role in the induction and maintenance of anti-tumor responses owing to their unique abilities for antigen cross-presentation and promotion of the activation of specific lymphocytes that target neoplasic cells. However, the tumor microenvironment can polarize DCs, transforming them into immunosuppressive regulatory DCs, a tolerogenic phenotype which limits the activity of effector T cells and supports tumor growth and progression. Various factors and signaling pathways have been implicated in the immunosuppressive functioning of DCs in cancer, and researchers are working on resolving processes that can circumvent tumor escape and developing viable therapeutic interventions to prevent or reverse the expression of immunosuppressive DCs in the tumor microenvironment. A better understanding of the pattern of DC response in patients with BC is fundamental to the development of specific therapeutic approaches to enable DCs to function properly. Various studies examining DCs immunotherapy have demonstrated its great potential for inducing immune responses to specific antigens and thereby reversing immunosuppression and related to clinical response in patients with BC. DC-based immunotherapy research has led to immense scientific advances, both in our understanding of the anti-tumor immune response and for the treatment of these patients.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Dendritic cells; Tumor microenvironment.

Publication types

  • Review