Immunotherapy against endocrine malignancies: immune checkpoint inhibitors lead the way

    1. Laura Sterian Ward1
    1. 1Laboratory of Cancer Molecular Genetics, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Campinas (FCM-Unicamp), Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil
    2. 2Liver and Gastrointestinal Transplant Division, Department of Gastroenterology, University of São Paulo, School of Medicine, São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
    1. Correspondence should be addressed to L S Ward; Email: ward{at}


    Immune checkpoint inhibitors are agents that act by inhibiting the mechanisms of immune escape displayed by various cancers. The success of immune checkpoint inhibitors against several tumors has promoted a new treatment strategy in clinical oncology, and this has encouraged physicians to increase the number of patients who receive the immune checkpoint therapy. In the present article, we review the main concepts regarding immune checkpoint mechanisms and how cancer disrupts them to undergo immune escape. In addition, we describe the most essential concepts related to immune checkpoint inhibitors. We critically review the literature on preclinical and clinical studies of the immune checkpoint inhibitors as a treatment option for thyroid cancer, ovarian carcinoma, pancreatic adenocarcinoma, adrenocortical carcinoma and neuroendocrine tumors. We present the challenges and the opportunities of using immune checkpoint inhibitors against these endocrine malignancies, highlighting the breakthroughs and pitfalls that have recently emerged.

    • Received 3 August 2017
    • Accepted 10 September 2017
    • Made available online as an Accepted Preprint 11 September 2017
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