Engaging cytotoxic T and NK cells for immunotherapy in chronic lymphocytic leukemia

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Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is characterized by an acquired immune dysfunction. CLL cells affect the phenotype and function of the entire spectrum of innate and adaptive immune cells, including monocytes, T cells, and natural killer (NK) cells, leading to a tumor-supportive environment and reduced immunosurveillance. Novel immunotherapies like immune checkpoint blockade, bi- and tri-specific antibodies, and chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells use the patients’ immune system to induce therapeutic responses. Although these novel immunotherapies showed impressive results in several B cell lymphomas, responses in CLL were often disappointing. The strong immunomodulatory effect of CLL is believed to play a pivotal role in the low response rates to these immunotherapeutic strategies. In this review, we summarize how CLL influences the function of non-malignant lymphocytes, with a special focus on T and NK cells, two important cellular mediators for immunotherapy. Secondly, we provide a short overview of the activity of several immunotherapeutics in CLL, and discuss how novel strategies may overcome the disappointing response rates in CLL.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4315
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2019

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