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Front Immunol. 2019 Jul 19;10:1719. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2019.01719. eCollection 2019.

T Cell Dysfunction in Cancer Immunity and Immunotherapy.

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Department of General Surgery, Liver Transplantation Center, The First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, China.
Department of Clinical Laboratory, Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University, Wuhan, China.
Department of Rehabilitation, Huai'an Second People's Hospital, and the Affiliated Huai'an Hospital of Xuzhou Medical University, Huai'an, China.
Reproductive Medicine Center, Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University, Wuhan, China.


In cancer, T cells become dysfunctional owing to persistent antigen exposure. Dysfunctional T cells are characterized by reduced proliferative capacity, decreased effector function, and overexpression of multiple inhibitory receptors. Due to the presence of various inhibitory signals in the complex tumor microenvironment, tumor-specific T cells have distinct dysfunction states. Therapeutic reactivation of tumor-specific T cells has yielded good results in cancer patients. Here, we review the hallmarks of T cell dysfunction in cancer. Also, we discuss the relationship between T cell dysfunction and cancer immunotherapy.


T cell dysfunction; cancer; immunity; immunotherapy; tumor microenvironment

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