Immunology Case Reports

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Rapid Communication - Immunology Case Reports (2023) Volume 6, Issue 4

Immunogenic cell death and its role in cancer

Le Zane*

Department of Medicine, Zhejiang University, China

*Corresponding Author:
Le Zane
Department of Medicine
Zhejiang University

Received:28-July-2023, Manuscript No. AAICR-23-109006; Editor assigned:01-Aug-2023, PreQC No. AAICR-23-109006(PQ); Reviewed:15-Aug-2023, QC No. AAICR-23-109006; Revised:21-Aug-2023, Manuscript No. AAICR-23-109006(R); Published:28-Aug-2023, DOI:10.35841/aaicr-6.4.159

Citation: Zane L. Immunogenic cell death and its role in cancer. Immunol Case Rep. 2023;6(4):159

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Cancer is a formidable adversary, posing a significant challenge to public health worldwide. Over the years, conventional cancer treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy have been the primary strategies to combat the disease. However, advancements in the field of immunotherapy have revolutionized cancer treatment by harnessing the power of the immune system. One crucial aspect of immunotherapy is "Immunogenic Cell Death" (ICD), a process that can trigger an immune response against cancer cells, leading to potential therapeutic breakthroughs [1].

Immunogenic cell death (ICD)

ICD is a form of programmed cell death induced by certain treatments that can stimulate an immune response against the dying cancer cells. Unlike non-immunogenic cell death, ICD leads to the release of specific molecules called "damage-associated molecular patterns" (DAMPs) and "danger-associated molecular patterns" (DAMPs) from the dying cells. DAMPs include proteins like high-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1), adenosine triphosphate (ATP), and calreticulin, among others. These released DAMPs act as "danger signals" that alert the immune system to the presence of dying cancer cells, promoting the recruitment and activation of various immune cells, such as dendritic cells, natural killer cells, and cytotoxic T lymphocytes. Consequently, the immune cells recognize and attack not only the dying cancer cells but also other cancer cells, leading to a potent and sustained anti-cancer immune response [2].

Role of the immune system in cancer

The immune system plays a critical role in detecting and eliminating abnormal cells, including cancer cells, through a process known as immunosurveillance. However, cancer cells can evade detection and destruction by the immune system through various mechanisms, including downregulation of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules and the expression of immune checkpoint proteins like PD-L1. In recent years, scientists and clinicians have sought to enhance the immune system's ability to target and eradicate cancer cells. Immune checkpoint inhibitors, such as anti-PD-1 and anti-CTLA-4 antibodies, have demonstrated significant success in certain cancers by blocking the immune checkpoints' inhibitory signals, thereby restoring the immune system's ability to recognize and attack cancer cells. However, not all patients respond to checkpoint inhibitors, highlighting the need for alternative approaches like ICD-based therapies [3].

ICD in cancer immunotherapy

ICD is an exciting concept in cancer immunotherapy because it represents a strategy to enhance the immunogenicity of cancer cells, making them more visible to the immune system. Several cancer treatments have been found to induce ICD, including certain chemotherapeutic agents, radiation therapy, and photodynamic therapy. For instance, anthracyclines and oxaliplatin, which are commonly used chemotherapeutic drugs, have been shown to induce ICD in specific settings. Similarly, radiation therapy can cause ICD in certain tumor types. By combining these treatments with immunotherapies, such as immune checkpoint inhibitors or cancer vaccines, clinicians aim to create a synergistic effect, augmenting the immune system's response to the dying cancer cells. While the concept of ICD is promising; challenges remain in translating this knowledge into effective clinical strategies. Not all cancer types respond equally to ICD-inducing therapies, and not all patients experience a robust immune response. Understanding the complex interactions between the tumor microenvironment, immune cells, and cancer cells will be crucial for optimizing ICD-based therapies [4].

Additionally, combining ICD-inducing therapies with other immunotherapies or targeted therapies requires careful consideration of the timing, dosing, and sequence to achieve the best outcomes. Personalized medicine approaches, which consider individual patient characteristics and tumor profiles, will likely be instrumental in maximizing the benefits of ICD-based treatments [5].


Immunogenic cell death represents a novel approach in cancer immunotherapy that holds significant potential for improving patient outcomes. By leveraging the immune system's power to detect and attack cancer cells, ICD-based therapies offer a promising avenue in the fight against cancer. As research continues to unveil the intricacies of ICD and its interactions with the immune system, we can hope for more effective and targeted treatments that bring us closer to defeating cancer once and for all.


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