The innate immune architecture of lung tumors and its implication in disease progression

J Pathol. 2019 Apr;247(5):589-605. doi: 10.1002/path.5241.


Lung malignancies are the leading cause of cancer-related mortality. By virtue of its unique physiological function, the lung microenvironment is highly dynamic and constantly subjected to mechanical, chemical and pathogenic stimuli. Thus, the airways rely on highly organized innate defense mechanisms to rapidly protect against pathogens and maintain pulmonary homeostasis. However, in the context of lung malignancy, these defenses often provide collateral inflammatory insults that can foster tumor progression. This review summarizes the interactions between cancer cells, recruited immune cells and tissue-resident cell subpopulations, such as airway epithelial cells and alveolar macrophages, during homeostasis and disease. Furthermore, we examine the role of the lung immune landscape in response to current therapeutic interventions for cancer. Given the prevalence of lung malignancies, we propose that consideration of lung physiology as a whole is necessary to understand and treat these lethal diseases. Copyright © 2019 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Keywords: Tumor microenvironment; immunotherapy; innate immunity; lung cancer.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity / immunology
  • Cell Hypoxia / immunology
  • Disease Progression*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology*
  • Lung / immunology
  • Lung Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Myeloid Cells / immunology
  • Precancerous Conditions / immunology
  • Tumor Microenvironment / immunology

Grant support