Immune Checkpoints and Innovative Therapies in Glioblastoma

Massimo Romani, Maria Pia Pistillo, Roberta Carosio, Anna Morabito, Barbara Banelli

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Targeting the Immune Checkpoint molecules (ICs; CTLA-4, PD-1, PD-L1/2, and others) which provide inhibitory signals to T cells, dramatically improves survival in hard-to-treat tumors. The establishment of an immunosuppressive environment prevents endogenous immune response in glioblastoma; therefore, manipulating the host immune system seems a reasonable strategy also for this tumor. In glioma patients the accumulation of CD4+/CD8+ T cells and Treg expressing high levels of CTLA-4 and PD-1, or the high expression of PD-L1 in glioma cells correlates with WHO high grade and short survival. Few clinical studies with IC inhibitors (ICis) were completed so far. Notably, the first large-scale randomized trial (NCT 02017717) that compared PD-1 blockade and anti-VEGF, did not show an OS increase in the patients treated with anti-PD-1. Several factors could have contributed to the failure of this trial and must be considered to design further clinical studies. In particular the possibility of targeting at the same time different ICs was pre-clinically tested in an animal model were inhibitors against IDO, CTLA-4 and PD-L1 were combined and showed persistent and significant antitumor effects in glioma-bearing mice. It is reasonable to hypothesize that the immunological characterization of the tumor in terms of type and level of expressed IC molecules on the tumor and TIL may be useful to design the optimal ICi combination for a given subset of tumor to overcome the immunosuppressive milieu of glioblastoma and to efficiently target a tumor with such high cellular complexity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)464
JournalFrontiers in Oncology
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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