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Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2017, 18(6), 1297; doi:10.3390/ijms18061297

Autophagic Mechanism in Anti-Cancer Immunity: Its Pros and Cons for Cancer Therapy

Department of Medicine, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL 33136, USA
Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL 33136, USA
Laboratory of Environmental Toxicology, Chulabhorn Research Institute, Thailand Chulabhorn Graduate Institute, Laksi, Bangkok 10210, Thailand
Department of Neurosurgery, Wan Fang Hospital, Taipei Medical University, Taipei 116, Taiwan
Department of Surgery, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL 33136, USA
Division of Hematology and Oncology, Miami Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, Miami, FL 33125, USA
Department of Molecular Pathology, University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 23 May 2017 / Revised: 9 June 2017 / Accepted: 12 June 2017 / Published: 19 June 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Autophagy at the Intersection of the Immune System and Cancer)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [1537 KB, uploaded 19 June 2017]   |  


Autophagy, a self-eating machinery, has been reported as an adaptive response to maintain metabolic homeostasis when cancer cells encounter stress. It has been appreciated that autophagy acts as a double-edge sword to decide the fate of cancer cells upon stress factors, molecular subtypes, and microenvironmental conditions. Currently, the majority of evidence support that autophagy in cancer cells is a vital mechanism bringing on resistance to current and prospective treatments, yet whether autophagy affects the anticancer immune response remains unclear and controversial. Accumulated studies have demonstrated that triggering autophagy is able to facilitate anticancer immunity due to an increase in immunogenicity, whereas other studies suggested that autophagy is likely to disarm anticancer immunity mediated by cytotoxic T cells and nature killer (NK) cells. Hence, this contradiction needs to be elucidated. In this review, we discuss the role of autophagy in cancer cells per se and in cancer microenvironment as well as its dual regulatory roles in immune surveillance through modulating presentation of tumor antigens, development of immune cells, and expression of immune checkpoints. We further focus on emerging roles of autophagy induced by current treatments and its impact on anticancer immune response, and illustrate the pros and cons of utilizing autophagy in cancer immunotherapy based on preclinical references. View Full-Text
Keywords: autophagy; anticancer immunity; immunogenicity; autophagy antagonist; tumor microenvironment autophagy; anticancer immunity; immunogenicity; autophagy antagonist; tumor microenvironment

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Li, Y.-Y.; Feun, L.G.; Thongkum, A.; Tu, C.-H.; Chen, S.-M.; Wangpaichitr, M.; Wu, C.; Kuo, M.T.; Savaraj, N. Autophagic Mechanism in Anti-Cancer Immunity: Its Pros and Cons for Cancer Therapy. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2017, 18, 1297.

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