The urgent need to recover MHC class I in cancers for effective immunotherapy

Curr Opin Immunol. 2016 Apr:39:44-51. doi: 10.1016/j.coi.2015.12.007. Epub 2016 Jan 18.


Immune escape strategies aimed to avoid T-cell recognition, including the loss of tumor MHC class I expression, are commonly found in malignant cells. Tumor immune escape has proven to have a negative effect on the clinical outcome of cancer immunotherapy, including treatment with antibodies blocking immune checkpoint molecules. Hence, there is an urgent need to develop novel approaches to overcome tumor immune evasion. MHC class I antigen presentation is often affected in human cancers and the capacity to induce upregulation of MHC class I cell surface expression is a critical step in the induction of tumor rejection. This review focuses on characterization of rejection, escape, and dormant profiles of tumors and its microenvironment with a special emphasis on the tumor MHC class I expression. We also discuss possible approaches to recover MHC class I expression on tumor cells harboring reversible/'soft' or irreversible/'hard' genetic lesions. Such MHC class I recovery approaches might well synergize with complementary forms of immunotherapy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy*
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*


  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I