The Immune Microenvironment of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma: A Literature Review

Cancers (Basel). 2021 Jun 26;13(13):3205. doi: 10.3390/cancers13133205.


Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is a rare and aggressive tumour with a poor prognosis, associated with asbestos exposure. Nowadays, treatment is based on chemotherapy with a median overall survival of less than two years. This review highlights the main characteristics of the immune microenvironment in MPM with special emphasis on recent biological advances. The MPM microenvironment is highly infiltrated by tumour-associated macrophages, mainly M2-macrophages. In line with infiltration by M2-macrophages, which contribute to immune suppression, other effectors of innate immune response are deficient in MPM, such as dendritic cells or natural killer cells. On the other hand, tumour infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) are also found in MPM, but CD4+ and CD8+ TILs might have decreased cytotoxic effects through T-regulators and high expression of immune checkpoints. Taken together, the immune microenvironment is particularly heterogeneous and can be considered as mainly immunotolerant or immunosuppressive. Therefore, identifying molecular vulnerabilities is particularly relevant to the improvement of patient outcomes and the assessment of promising treatment approaches.

Keywords: exhausted T-cells; immune checkpoints; immune microenvironment; malignant pleural mesothelioma; tumour infiltrating lymphocytes; tumour-associated macrophages.

Publication types

  • Review