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Oncogene. 2008 Jan 7;27(2):200-7. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1210909.

Radiation therapy and Toll-like receptor signaling: implications for the treatment of cancer.

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Department of Surgery, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


The identification of pathogen-associated molecular patterns, conserved microbial structures that act on Toll-like receptors, has led to a novel avenue of investigation aimed at developing a new generation of cancer immunotherapies. Ligation of Toll-like receptors results in the induction of robust immune responses that may be directed against tumor-associated antigens. Recent data suggest that such strategies may result in enhanced antitumor immunity. Nonetheless, as clinically effective immunotherapy for cancer remains a somewhat distant goal, attention has shifted toward multimodality approaches to cancer therapy, sometimes combining novel immune interventions and conventional treatments. The traditional view of radiation therapy as immunosuppressive has now been challenged, prompting a re-evaluation of its potential as an adjunct to immunotherapy. Radiation therapy can enhance the expression of tumor-associated antigens, induce immune-mediated targeting of tumor stroma, and diminish regulatory T cell activity. Recent evidence suggests that radiation therapy may also activate effectors of innate immunity through TLR-dependent mechanisms, thereby augmenting the adaptive immune response to cancer. In this paper, we will review evidence for enhanced tumor-directed immunity resulting from radiation exposure and early promising data suggesting synergistic effects of radiation and TLR-targeted immunotherapies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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