The immune landscape of common CNS malignancies: implications for immunotherapy

Martina Ott, Robert M. Prins, Amy B. Heimberger*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations

Abstract

Immunotherapy has enabled remarkable therapeutic responses across cancers of various lineages, albeit with some notable exceptions such as glioblastoma. Several previous misconceptions, which have impaired progress in the past, including the presence and role of the blood–brain barrier and a lack of lymphatic drainage, have been refuted. Nonetheless, a subset of patients with brain metastases but, paradoxically, not the vast majority of those with gliomas are able to respond to immune-checkpoint inhibitors. Immune profiling of samples obtained from patients with central nervous system malignancies using techniques such as mass cytometry and single-cell sequencing along with experimental data from genetically engineered mouse models have revealed fundamental differences in immune composition and immunobiology that not only explain the differences in responsiveness to these agents but also lay the foundations for immunotherapeutic strategies that are applicable to gliomas. Herein, we review the emerging data on the differences in immune cell composition, function and interactions within central nervous system tumours and provide guidance on the development of novel immunotherapies for these historically difficult-to-treat cancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)729-744
Number of pages16
JournalNature Reviews Clinical Oncology
Volume18
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology

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