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J Oncol. 2018 Dec 2;2018:9732939. doi: 10.1155/2018/9732939. eCollection 2018.

Transforming of the Tumor Microenvironment: Implications for TGF-β Inhibition in the Context of Immune-Checkpoint Therapy.

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Skin Cancer Unit of the Dermatology Department, West German Cancer Center, University Hospital Essen, University Duisburg-Essen, and the German Cancer Consortium (DKTK), 45147 Essen, Germany.


Significant breakthroughs have been achieved in the fields of oncogenic signaling inhibition and particularly immune-checkpoint blockade has triggered substantial enthusiasm during the last decade. Antibody-mediated blockade of negative immune-checkpoint molecules (e.g., PD-1/PD-L1, CTLA-4) has been shown to achieve profound responses in several of solid cancers. Unfortunately, these responses only occur in a subset of patients or, after initial therapy response, these tumors eventually relapse. Thus, elucidating the determinants of intrinsic or therapy-induced resistance is the key to improve outcomes and developing new treatment strategies. Several cytokines and growth factors are involved in the tight regulation of either antitumor immunity or immunosuppressive tumor-promoting inflammation within the tumor microenvironment (TME), of which transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) is of particular importance. This review will therefore summarize the recent progress that has been made in the understanding of how TGF-β blockade may have the capacity to enhance efficacy of immune-checkpoint therapy which presents a rational strategy to sustain the antitumor inflammatory response to improve response rates in tumor patients. Finally, I will conclude with a comprehensive summary of clinical trials in which TGF-β blockade revealed therapeutic benefit for patients by counteracting tumor relapses.

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