Cancer-induced immunosuppression is a major problem as it reduces the anti-tumor effects of immunotherapies. In cancer tissues, cancer cells, immune cells, and other stromal cells interact and create an immunosuppressive microenvironment through a variety of immunosuppressive factors. Some cancer subpopulations such as cancer cells undergoing epithelial-mesenchymal transition and cancer stem-like cells have immunosuppressive and immunoresistant properties. The production of immunosuppressive factors by cancer cells is mechanistically attributed to oncogenic signals frequently activated in cancer cells, including the STAT3, MAPK, NF-κB, and Wnt/β-catenin signals, which are upstream events leading to immunosuppressive cascades. Moreover, some of these signals are also activated in immunosuppressive immune cells stimulated by cancer-derived factors and contribute to their immunosuppressive activities. Therefore, targeting these signals both in cancer cells and immunosuppressive immune cells may result in the restoration of immuno-competence in cancer patients and improve current immunotherapy.
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