Gastric Cancer in the Era of Immune Checkpoint Blockade

J Oncol. 2019 Sep 24;2019:1079710. doi: 10.1155/2019/1079710. eCollection 2019.


Gastric cancer (GC) is one of the most important malignancies worldwide because of its high incidence and mortality. The very low survival rates are mainly related to late diagnosis and limited treatment options. GC is the final clinical outcome of a stepwise process that starts with a chronic and sustained inflammatory reaction mounted in response to Helicobacter pylori infection. The bacterium modulates innate and adaptive immunity presumably as part of the strategies to survive, which favors the creation of an immunosuppressive microenvironment that ultimately facilitates GC progression. T-cell exhaustion, which is characterized by elevated expression of immune checkpoint (IC) proteins, is one of the most salient manifestations of immunosuppressive microenvironments. It has been consistently demonstrated that the tumor-immune microenvironment(TIME)-exhausted phenotype can be reverted by blocking ICs with monoclonal antibodies. Although these therapies are associated with long-lasting response rates, only a subset of patients derive clinical benefit, which varies according to tumor site. The search for biomarkers to predict the response to IC inhibition is a matter of intense investigation as this may contribute to maximize disease control, reduce side effects, and minimize cost. The approval of pembrolizumab for its use in GC has rocketed immuno-oncology research in this cancer type. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge centered around the immune contexture and recent findings in connection with IC inhibition in GC.

Publication types

  • Review