Detection of immunogenic cell death and its relevance for cancer therapy

Cell Death Dis. 2020 Nov 26;11(11):1013. doi: 10.1038/s41419-020-03221-2.


Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, as well as targeted anticancer agents can induce clinically relevant tumor-targeting immune responses, which critically rely on the antigenicity of malignant cells and their capacity to generate adjuvant signals. In particular, immunogenic cell death (ICD) is accompanied by the exposure and release of numerous damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs), which altogether confer a robust adjuvanticity to dying cancer cells, as they favor the recruitment and activation of antigen-presenting cells. ICD-associated DAMPs include surface-exposed calreticulin (CALR) as well as secreted ATP, annexin A1 (ANXA1), type I interferon, and high-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1). Additional hallmarks of ICD encompass the phosphorylation of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2 subunit-α (EIF2S1, better known as eIF2α), the activation of autophagy, and a global arrest in transcription and translation. Here, we outline methodological approaches for measuring ICD markers in vitro and ex vivo for the discovery of next-generation antineoplastic agents, the development of personalized anticancer regimens, and the identification of optimal therapeutic combinations for the clinical management of cancer.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Drug Discovery / methods*
  • Humans
  • Immunogenic Cell Death / immunology*
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*