Necroptosis in Immuno-Oncology and Cancer Immunotherapy

Cells. 2020 Aug 1;9(8):1823. doi: 10.3390/cells9081823.


Immune-checkpoint blockers (ICBs) have revolutionized oncology and firmly established the subfield of immuno-oncology. Despite this renaissance, a subset of cancer patients remain unresponsive to ICBs due to widespread immuno-resistance. To "break" cancer cell-driven immuno-resistance, researchers have long floated the idea of therapeutically facilitating the immunogenicity of cancer cells by disrupting tumor-associated immuno-tolerance via conventional anticancer therapies. It is well appreciated that anticancer therapies causing immunogenic or inflammatory cell death are best positioned to productively activate anticancer immunity. A large proportion of studies have emphasized the importance of immunogenic apoptosis (i.e., immunogenic cell death or ICD); yet, it has also emerged that necroptosis, a programmed necrotic cell death pathway, can also be immunogenic. Emergence of a proficient immune profile for necroptosis has important implications for cancer because resistance to apoptosis is one of the major hallmarks of tumors. Putative immunogenic or inflammatory characteristics driven by necroptosis can be of great impact in immuno-oncology. However, as is typical for a highly complex and multi-factorial disease like cancer, a clear cause versus consensus relationship on the immunobiology of necroptosis in cancer cells has been tough to establish. In this review, we discuss the various aspects of necroptosis immunobiology with specific focus on immuno-oncology and cancer immunotherapy.

Keywords: T cells; cytokines; damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs); danger signals; dendritic cells; immunogenic cell death; interferons; macrophages; patients; prognostic/predictive biomarkers.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Necroptosis / immunology*