Harnessing Immunity to Treat Advanced Thyroid Cancer

Vaccines (Basel). 2023 Dec 30;12(1):45. doi: 10.3390/vaccines12010045.


The incidence of thyroid cancer (TC) has increased over the past 30 years. Although differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) has a good prognosis in most patients undergoing total thyroidectomy followed by radioiodine therapy (RAI), 5-10% of patients develop metastasis. Anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC) has a low survival rate and few effective treatments have been available to date. Recently, tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) have been successfully applied to RAI-resistant or non-responsive TC to suppress the disease. However, TC eventually develops resistance to TKIs. Immunotherapy is a promising treatment for TC, the majority of which is considered an immune-hot malignancy. Immune suppression by TC cells and immune-suppressing cells, including tumor-associated macrophages, myeloid-derived suppressor cells, and regulatory T cells, is complex and dynamic. Negative immune checkpoints, cytokines, vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGF), and indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1 (IDO1) suppress antitumor T cells. Basic and translational advances in immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs), molecule-targeted therapy, tumor-specific immunotherapy, and their combinations have enabled us to overcome immune suppression and activate antitumor immune cells. This review summarizes current findings regarding the immune microenvironment, immunosuppression, immunological targets, and immunotherapy for TC and highlights the potential efficacy of immunotherapy.

Keywords: adjuvant; immunotherapy; peptide vaccine; targeted therapy; thyroid cancer.

Publication types

  • Review