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Front Immunol. 2017 Oct 27;8:1401. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2017.01401. eCollection 2017.

Current Advances in γδ T Cell-Based Tumor Immunotherapy.

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Dipartimento di Biopatologia e Metodologie Biomediche, University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy.
Central Laboratory of Advanced Diagnosis and Biomedical Research (CLADIBIOR), University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy.
Humanitas University, Rozzano-Milano, Italy.
Dipartimento di Discipline Chirurgiche ed Oncologiche, University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy.


γδ T cells are a minor population (~5%) of CD3 T cells in the peripheral blood, but abound in other anatomic sites such as the intestine or the skin. There are two major subsets of γδ T cells: those that express Vδ1 gene, paired with different Vγ elements, abound in the intestine and the skin, and recognize the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I-related molecules such as MHC class I-related molecule A, MHC class I-related molecule B, and UL16-binding protein expressed on many stressed and tumor cells. Conversely, γδ T cells expressing the Vδ2 gene paired with the Vγ9 chain are the predominant (50-90%) γδ T cell population in the peripheral blood and recognize phosphoantigens (PAgs) derived from the mevalonate pathway of mammalian cells, which is highly active upon infection or tumor transformation. Aminobisphosphonates (n-BPs), which inhibit farnesyl pyrophosphate synthase, a downstream enzyme of the mevalonate pathway, cause accumulation of upstream PAgs and therefore promote γδ T cell activation. γδ T cells have distinctive features that justify their utilization in antitumor immunotherapy: they do not require MHC restriction and are less dependent that αβ T cells on co-stimulatory signals, produce cytokines with known antitumor effects as interferon-γ and tumor necrosis factor-α and display cytotoxic and antitumor activities in vitro and in mouse models in vivo. Thus, there is interest in the potential application of γδ T cells in tumor immunotherapy, and several small-sized clinical trials have been conducted of γδ T cell-based immunotherapy in different types of cancer after the application of PAgs or n-BPs plus interleukin-2 in vivo or after adoptive transfer of ex vivo-expanded γδ T cells, particularly the Vγ9Vδ2 subset. Results from clinical trials testing the efficacy of any of these two strategies have shown that γδ T cell-based therapy is safe, but long-term clinical results to date are inconsistent. In this review, we will discuss the major achievements and pitfalls of the γδ T cell-based immunotherapy of cancer.


Zoledronate; adoptive transfer; immunoevasion; immunotherapy; γδ T cells

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