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Immune aspects of hepatocellular carcinoma: From immune markers for early detection to immunotherapy

Authors
  • Mattos, Ângelo Z
  • Debes, Jose D
  • Boonstra, Andre
  • Vogel, Arndt
  • Mattos, Angelo A
Type
Published Article
Journal
World Journal of Gastrointestinal Oncology
Publisher
Baishideng Publishing Group Inc
Publication Date
Sep 15, 2021
Volume
13
Issue
9
Pages
1132–1143
Identifiers
DOI: 10.4251/wjgo.v13.i9.1132
PMID: 34616518
PMCID: PMC8465446
Source
PubMed Central
Keywords
Disciplines
  • Minireviews
License
Unknown

Abstract

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most prevalent cancers and one of the main causes of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Most HCCs develop in an inflammatory microenvironment, and mounting evidence emphasizes the importance of immune aspects in hepatocarcinogenesis. In normal physiology, both innate and adaptive immune responses are responsible for eliminating malignantly transformed cells, thus preventing the development of liver cancer. However, in the setting of impaired natural killer cells and exhaustion of T cells, HCC can develop. The immunogenic features of HCC have relevant clinical implications. There is a large number of immune markers currently being studied for the early detection of liver cancer, which would be critical in order to improve surveillance programs. Moreover, novel immunotherapies have recently been proven to be effective, and the combination of atezolizumab and bevacizumab is currently the most effective treatment for advanced HCC. It is expected that in the near future different subgroups of patients will benefit from specific immunotherapy. The better we understand the immune aspects of HCC, the greater the benefit to patients through surveillance aiming for early detection of liver cancer, which allows for curative treatments, and, in cases of advanced disease, through the selection of the best possible therapy for each individual.

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