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Immune escape mechanisms and their clinical relevance in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma

: Seliger, B.; Massa, C.; Yang, B.; Bethmann, D.; Kappler, M.; Eckert, A.W.; Wickenhauser, C.

Volltext ()

International journal of molecular sciences 21 (2020), Nr.19, Art. 7032, 17 S.
ISSN: 1422-0067
ISSN: 1661-6596
Zeitschriftenaufsatz, Elektronische Publikation
Fraunhofer IZI ()

Immunotherapy has been recently approved for the treatment of relapsed and metastatic human papilloma virus (HPV) positive and negative head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). However, the response of patients is limited and the overall survival remains short with a low rate of long-term survivors. There exists growing evidence that complex and partially redundant immune escape mechanisms play an important role for the low efficacy of immunotherapies in this disease. These are caused by diverse complex processes characterized by (i) changes in the expression of immune modulatory molecules in tumor cells, (ii) alterations in the frequency, composition and clonal expansion of immune cell subpopulations in the tumor microenvironment and peripheral blood leading to reduced innate and adaptive immune responses, (iii) impaired homing of immune cells to the tumor site as well as (iv) the presence of immune suppressive soluble and physical factors in the tumor microenvironment. We here summarize the major immune escape strategies of HNSCC lesions, highlight pathways, and molecular targets that help to attenuate HNSCC-induced immune tolerance, affect the selection and success of immunotherapeutic approaches to overcome resistance to immunotherapy by targeting immune escape mechanisms and thus improve the HNSCC patients’ outcome.