Immune checkpoint combinations from mouse to man

Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2015 Jul;64(7):885-92. doi: 10.1007/s00262-014-1650-8. Epub 2015 Jan 3.


The discovery that antibody blockade of the T cell co-inhibitory receptor cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated protein 4 (CTLA-4) can restore tumor immunity against many murine transplantable tumors leading to complete rejection of established cancer forever changed the field of immunotherapy. In more robust murine models as well as human cancer, however, CTLA-4 blockade alone can slow tumor growth and extend patient survival, but is rarely curative. Subsequent studies have revealed a large family of T cell immune checkpoint receptors which tumors engage to shield themselves from host immunity. As with CTLA-4, blockade of one of these additional inhibitory receptors, programmed death 1, has led to remarkable therapeutic responses against tumors of multiple lineages. Checkpoint monotherapy has demonstrated that durable, immune-mediated cures of established metastatic cancers are possible, yet the percentage of patients experiencing these outcomes remains low due to both redundant mechanisms of immune suppression in the tumor and limiting toxicity associated with some therapies. Thus, extending the curative potential of immunotherapy to a larger percentage of patients with a broader spectrum of malignancies will likely require combinations of co-inhibitory blockade and co-stimulatory activation designed to peel back multiple layers of tumor immune suppression while at the same time minimizing immune-mediated toxicity. As over a dozen T cell immune checkpoints and an additional dozen more co-stimulatory receptors have now been described, the challenge before us is to identify the most advantageous combinations of these agents based on the knowledge of their underlying biology and preclinical studies in murine tumor models.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 4-1BB Ligand / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / therapeutic use
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology*
  • CTLA-4 Antigen / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • CTLA-4 Antigen / genetics
  • CTLA-4 Antigen / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Ipilimumab
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology


  • 4-1BB Ligand
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • CTLA-4 Antigen
  • Ipilimumab
  • PDCD1 protein, human
  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor
  • pembrolizumab