Sarcomas are a heterogeneous group of malignancies of mesenchymal origin; their molecular and genomic mechanisms differ with regard to histology. These characteristics lead to the presentation of varied immunological profiles based on the tumor microenvironment. Various immunotherapies are considered for the treatment of sarcoma. These treatments are performed either in isolation or in combination with other methods such as cytotoxic chemotherapy or the use of molecular target agents. Among these, two recently emerging immunotherapies include T-cell receptor gene therapy and immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy, which are expected to be effective for many types of sarcoma. A sarcoma with a disease-specific translocation and a limited number of mutations, such as synovial sarcoma, expresses high levels of self-antigens, like the New York esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 1, which has been targeted in T-cell receptor gene therapy. On the other hand, sarcomas with a greater number of mutations, such as undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcomas, myxofibrosarcoma and dedifferentiated liposarcomas, can be good candidates for immune checkpoint inhibitors. Among immune checkpoint inhibitor therapies, programmed cell death-1 blockade (nivolumab and pembrolizumab) and cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 blockade (ipilimumab) have been investigated most often in sarcoma. Although the sole use of immune checkpoint inhibitors provides limited efficacy, combined immunotherapy with immune checkpoint inhibitors or molecular target agents, especially antiangiogenic agents, has shown moderate results against some types of sarcoma, such as the alveolar soft part sarcoma. Several clinical trials utilizing immunotherapy, including T-cell receptor gene therapy and immune checkpoint inhibitors, in sarcomas are under progress. By clarifying the tumor microenvironment and biomarker-predictive capacity of immunotherapy in sarcomas, better clinical trials can be designed; this could lead to improved outcomes for immunotherapy in sarcoma.
Keywords: immune checkpoint inhibitor; immunotherapy; sarcoma.
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