Transforming Growth Factor-β Signaling in Immunity and Cancer

Immunity. 2019 Apr 16;50(4):924-940. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2019.03.024.


Transforming growth factor (TGF)-β is a crucial enforcer of immune homeostasis and tolerance, inhibiting the expansion and function of many components of the immune system. Perturbations in TGF-β signaling underlie inflammatory diseases and promote tumor emergence. TGF-β is also central to immune suppression within the tumor microenvironment, and recent studies have revealed roles in tumor immune evasion and poor responses to cancer immunotherapy. Here, we present an overview of the complex biology of the TGF-β family and its context-dependent nature. Then, focusing on cancer, we discuss the roles of TGF-β signaling in distinct immune cell types and how this knowledge is being leveraged to unleash the immune system against the tumor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity
  • Animals
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Disease Progression
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition
  • Fibroblasts / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Inflammation
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neutrophils / immunology
  • Receptors, Transforming Growth Factor beta / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / immunology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / immunology
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / physiology*
  • Tumor Escape
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • Receptors, Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta