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Biofactors. 2013 Jul-Aug;39(4):355-67. doi: 10.1002/biof.1125. Epub 2013 Jul 31.

Cancer immunogenicity, danger signals, and DAMPs: what, when, and how?

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Department for Molecular Cell Biology, Cell Death Research and Therapy (CDRT) Unit, University of Leuven (KULeuven), Leuven, Belgium.


Cancer immunosurvelliance usually leads to formation of cancer cells that have been "immunoedited" to resist anti-tumor immunity. One of the consequences of immunoediting that is, reduced immunogenicity, is an important roadblock in revival of stable and long-lasting anti-tumor immune responses. Research done during the last decade has shown that emission by the dying cancer cells of immunomodulatory factors or damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs), which can act as danger signals, is a critical event in accentuating the immunogenicity of cancer cells, in response to a subset of anticancer treatments. Recent evidence has defined that an apoptotic cell death subroutine and its underlying biochemistry, which has been termed as "immunogenic cell death (ICD)" or "immunogenic apoptosis," is required for the efficient emission of DAMPs and inciting anti-tumor immunity. Here, we review the basic concepts of ICD, like cancer immunogenicity, danger signals, and DAMPs. Moreover, we discuss the emerging molecular links between endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, induction of a viral response-like gene expression, danger signals, and anti-tumor immunity. We envisage that along with ER stress-based trafficking of DAMPs (which is a "short-range communicator" of danger), the accompanying induction of a viral response-like gene expression and the secretion of anti-tumorigenic cytokines may become a crucial signature of ICD induction by anticancer therapy.


ICD inducers; anti-tumor immunity; immunogenic cell death; tumor immunology; viral response

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