Tumor-draining lymph nodes: opportunities, challenges, and future directions in colorectal cancer immunotherapy

J Immunother Cancer. 2024 Jan 19;12(1):e008026. doi: 10.1136/jitc-2023-008026.


Tumor-draining lymph nodes (TDLNs) are potential immunotherapy targets that could expand the population of patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) who may benefit from immunotherapy. Currently, pathological detection of tumor cell infiltration limits the acquisition of immune information related to the resected lymph nodes. Understanding the immune function and metastatic risk of specific stages of lymph nodes can facilitate better discussions on the removal or preservation of lymph nodes, as well as the timing of immunotherapy. This review summarized the contribution of TDLNs to CRC responses to immune checkpoint blockade therapy, local immunotherapy, adoptive cell therapy, and cancer vaccines, and discussed the significance of these findings for the development of diagnostics based on TDLNs and the potential implications for guiding immunotherapy after a definitive diagnosis. Molecular pathology and immune spectrum diagnosis of TDLNs will promote significant advances in the selection of immunotherapy options and predicting treatment efficacy.

Keywords: Adaptive Immunity; Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors; Immunotherapy; Tumor Biomarkers.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Colorectal Neoplasms*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy*
  • Lymph Nodes
  • Treatment Outcome