Current Advances in Checkpoint Inhibitors: Lessons from Non-Central Nervous System Cancers and Potential for Glioblastoma

Natasha Lakin, Robert Rulach, Stefan Nowicki, Kathreena M Kurian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
675 Downloads (Pure)


The adaptive immune system depends on the sequence of antigen presentation, activation, and then inhibition to mount a proportionate response to a threat. Tumors evade the immune response partly by suppressing T-cell activity using immune checkpoints. The use of cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated protein 4 (CTLA-4), programmed cell death 1 (PD-1), and programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) antibodies counteract this suppression, thereby enhancing the antitumor activity of the immune system. This approach has proven efficacy in melanoma, renal cancer, and lung cancer. There is growing evidence that the central nervous system is accessible to the immune system in the diseased state. Moreover, glioblastomas (GBMs) attract CTLA-4-expressing T-cells and express PD-L1, which inhibit activation and continuation of a cytotoxic T-cell response, respectively. This may contribute to the evasion of the host immune response by GBM. Trials are in progress to determine if checkpoint inhibitors will be of benefit in GBM. Radiotherapy could also be helpful in promoting inflammation, enhancing the immunogenicity of tumors, disrupting the blood-brain barrier and creating greater antigen release. The combination of radiotherapy and checkpoint inhibitors has been promising in preclinical trials but is yet to show efficacy in humans. In this review, we summarize the mechanism and current evidence for checkpoint inhibitors in gliomas and other solid tumors, examine the rationale of combining radiotherapy with checkpoint inhibitors, and discuss the potential benefits and pitfalls of this approach.

Original languageEnglish
Article number141
JournalFrontiers in Oncology
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2017


  • Journal Article
  • Review


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