Modulation of radiation sensitivity and antitumor immunity by viral pathogenic factors: Implications for radio-immunotherapy

Biochim Biophys Acta Rev Cancer. 2019 Jan;1871(1):126-137. doi: 10.1016/j.bbcan.2018.12.006. Epub 2018 Dec 31.


Several DNA viruses including Human Papillomavirus (HPV), Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), and Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) are mechanistically associated with the development of human cancers (HPV, EBV) and/or modulation of the immune system (HCMV). Moreover, a number of distinct mechanisms have been described regarding the modulation of tumor cell response to ionizing radiation and evasion from the host immune system by viral factors. There is further accumulating interest in the treatment with immune-modulatory therapies such as immune checkpoint inhibitors for malignancies with a viral etiology. Also, patients with HPV-positive tumors have a significantly improved prognosis that is attributable to increased intrinsic radiation sensitivity and may also arise from modulation of a cytotoxic T cell response in the tumor microenvironment (TME). In this review, we will highlight recent advances in the understanding of the biological basis of radiation response mediated by viral pathogenic factors and evasion from and modulation of the immune system by viruses.

Keywords: Anti-tumor immunity; Epstein-Barr virus; Human Papillomavirus; Human cytomegalovirus; Radio-immunotherapy; Viral pathogenic factors.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / complications
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / immunology
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / complications
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / virology*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / complications
  • Papillomavirus Infections / immunology
  • Radiation Tolerance / physiology*
  • Radiotherapy
  • Tumor Escape / immunology*
  • Virulence Factors / metabolism


  • Virulence Factors