Metabolism of immune cells in cancer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Through the successes of checkpoint blockade and adoptive cellular therapy, immunotherapy has become an established treatment modality for cancer. Cellular metabolism has emerged as a critical determinant of the viability and function of both cancer cells and immune cells. In order to sustain prodigious anabolic needs, tumours employ a specialized metabolism that differs from untransformed somatic cells. This metabolism leads to a tumour microenvironment that is commonly acidic, hypoxic and/or depleted of critical nutrients required by immune cells. In this context, tumour metabolism itself is a checkpoint that can limit immune-mediated tumour destruction. Because our understanding of immune cell metabolism and cancer metabolism has grown significantly in the past decade, we are on the cusp of being able to unravel the interaction of cancer cell metabolism and immune metabolism in therapeutically meaningful ways. Although there are metabolic processes that are seemingly fundamental to both cancer and responding immune cells, metabolic heterogeneity and plasticity may serve to distinguish the two. As such, understanding the differential metabolic requirements of the diverse cells that comprise an immune response to cancer offers an opportunity to selectively regulate immune cell function. Such a nuanced evaluation of cancer and immune metabolism can uncover metabolic vulnerabilities and therapeutic windows upon which to intervene for enhanced immunotherapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)516-531
Number of pages16
JournalNature Reviews Cancer
Volume20
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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