Effective immunotherapy promotes the killing of cancer cells by cytotoxic T cells. This requires not only that cancer-specific T cells be generated, but also that these T cells physically contact cancer cells. The coexistence in some patients of cancer cells and T cells that recognize them indicates that tumors may exhibit the phenomenon of immune privilege, in which immunogenic tissue is protected from immune attack. Here, we review the evidence that stromal cells of the tumor microenvironment mediate this restriction by excluding T cells from the vicinity of cancer cells. Overcoming this T cell checkpoint may thus enable optimal immunotherapy.
Copyright © 2015, American Association for the Advancement of Science.