T lymphocyte-targeted immune checkpoint modulation in glioma

William James Kelly, Amber Jin Giles, Mark Gilbert

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Immunomodulatory therapies targeting inhibitory checkpoint molecules have revolutionized the treatment of solid tumor malignancies. Concerns about whether systemic administration of an immune checkpoint inhibitor could impact primary brain tumors were answered with the observation of definitive responses in pediatric patients harboring hypermutated gliomas. Although initial clinical results in patients with glioblastoma (GBM) were disappointing, recently published results have demonstrated a potential survival benefit in patients with recurrent GBM treated with neoadjuvant programmed cell death protein 1 blockade. While these findings necessitate verification in subsequent studies, they support the possibility of achieving clinical meaningful immune responses in malignant primary brain tumors including GBM, a disease in dire need of additional therapeutic options. There are several challenges involved in treating glioma with immune checkpoint modulators including the immunosuppressive nature of GBM itself with high inhibitory checkpoint expression, the immunoselective blood brain barrier impairing the ability for peripheral lymphocytes to traffic to the tumor microenvironment and the high prevalence of corticosteroid use which suppress lymphocyte activation. However, by simultaneously targeting multiple costimulatory and inhibitory pathways, it may be possible to achieve an effective antitumoral immune response. To this end, there are now several novel agents targeting more recently uncovered "second generation" checkpoint molecules. Given the multiplicity of drugs being considered for combination regimens, an increased understanding of the mechanisms of action and resistance combined with more robust preclinical and early clinical testing will be needed to be able to adequately test these agents. This review summarizes our current understanding of T lymphocyte-modulating checkpoint molecules as it pertains to glioma with the hope for a renewed focus on the most promising therapeutic strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere000379
JournalJournal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 11 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Oncology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cancer Research


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