Br J Cancer 2019 Apr 2;120(9):871-882. Epub 2019 Apr 2.
Department of Medical Oncology and Internal Medicine VI, National Center for Tumor Diseases, University Hospital Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.
Significant progress in the development of new immunotherapies has led to successful clinical trials for malignant melanoma and non-small cell lung cancer; however, for the majority of solid tumours of the gastrointestinal tract, little or no progress has been seen. The efficacy of immunotherapies is limited by the complexities of a diverse set of immune cells, and interactions between the tumour cells and all other cells in the local microenvironment of solid tumours. A large fraction of immune cells present in and around solid tumours derive from the innate arm of the immune system and using these cells against tumours offers an alternative immunotherapeutic option, especially as current strategies largely harness the adaptive arm of the immune system. This option is currently being investigated and attempts at using the innate immune system for gastrointestinal cancers are showing initial results. Several important factors, including cytokines, chemotherapeutics and the microbiome, influence the plasticity and functionality of innate (myeloid) cells in the microenvironment, and this complexity of regulation has limited translation into successful trials so far. In this review, current concepts of the immunobiology of the innate arm in the tumour microenvironment are presented in the context of clinical translation.