Matter of TIME: the tumor-immune microenvironment of mesothelioma and implications for checkpoint blockade efficacy

J Immunother Cancer. 2021 Sep;9(9):e003032. doi: 10.1136/jitc-2021-003032.


Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is an incurable cancer with a dismal prognosis and few effective treatment options. Nonetheless, recent positive phase III trial results for immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) in MPM herald a new dawn in the fight to advance effective treatments for this cancer. Tumor mutation burden (TMB) has been widely reported to predict ICB in other cancers, but MPM is considered a low-TMB tumor. Similarly, tumor programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression has not been proven predictive in phase III clinical trials in MPM. Consequently, the precise mechanisms that determine response to immunotherapy in this cancer remain unknown. The present review therefore aimed to synthesize our current understanding of the tumor immune microenvironment in MPM and reflects on how specific cellular features might impact immunotherapy responses or lead to resistance. This approach will inform stratified approaches to therapy and advance immunotherapy combinations in MPM to improve clinical outcomes further.

Keywords: CD8-positive T lymphocytes; immunotherapy; lymphocytes; macrophages; tumor microenvironment; tumor-infiltrating.

Publication types

  • Review