Understanding the Effects of Radiotherapy on the Tumour Immune Microenvironment to Identify Potential Prognostic and Predictive Biomarkers of Radiotherapy Response

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Radiotherapy (RT) is a highly effective anti-cancer treatment. Immunotherapy using immune checkpoint blockade (ICI) has emerged as a new and robust pillar in cancer therapy; however, the response rate to single agent ICI is low whilst toxicity remains. Radiotherapy has been shown to have local and systemic immunomodulatory effects. Therefore, combining RT and immunotherapy is a rational approach to enhance anti-tumour immune responses. However, the immunomodulatory effects of RT can be both immunostimulatory or immunosuppressive and may be different across different tumour types and patients. Therefore, there is an urgent medical need to establish biomarkers to guide clinical decision making in predicting responses or in patient selection for RT-based combination treatments. In this review, we summarize the immunological effects of RT on the tumour microenvironment and emerging biomarkers to help better understand the implications of these immunological changes, and we provide new insights into the potential for combination therapies with RT and immunotherapy.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2835
Issue number10
Early online date30 Sep 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Sep 2020