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Front. Oncol. | doi: 10.3389/fonc.2018.00532

Crosstalk between PD-1/PD-L1 blockade and its combinatorial therapies in tumor immune microenvironment: a focus on HNSCC

 Weimin Lin1,  Miao Chen1,  Le Hong1, Hang Zhao1* and Qianming Chen1
  • 1Sichuan University, China

Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is the sixth most common malignancy worldwide with a poor prognosis and high mortality. More than two-thirds of HNSCC patients still have no effective control of clinical progression, and the five-year survival rate is less than 50%. Moreover, patients with platinum-refractory HNSCC have a median survival of less than six months. The significant toxicity and low survival rates of current treatment strategies highlight the necessity for new treatment modalities. Recently, a large number of studies have demonstrated that programmed cell death protein-1 (PD-1) and its ligand, programmed cell death protein ligand-1 (PD-L1) play an essential role in tumor initiation and progression. PD-1/PD-L1 blockade has shown a desired and long-lasting therapeutic effect in the treatment of HNSCC and other malignancies. However, only a small number of patients with HNSCC can benefit from PD-1/PD-L1 blockade monotherapy, while the majority of patients do not respond. To overcome the unsatisfactory therapeutic effect of PD-1/PD-L1 blockade monotherapy, combining other treatment options for HNSCC (including chemotherapy, radiotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy) in the treatment scheme has become a commonly used strategy. Herein, the potential mechanisms underlying the crosstalk between PD-1/PD-L1 blockade and its combinatorial therapies for HNSCC were reviewed, and it is hoped that the improved understanding of the crosstalk process would provide further ideas for the design of a combinatorial regimen with a higher efficiency and response rate for the treatment of HNSCC and other malignancies.

Keywords: cancer immunotherapy, combined therapy, PD-1, PD-L1, Head and neck squamos cell carcinoma

Received: 14 Aug 2018; Accepted: 30 Oct 2018.

Edited by:

Peter Brossart, Universität Bonn, Germany

Reviewed by:

Daniel Olive, Faculté de Médecine, Aix Marseille Université, France
Sven Perner, Institut für Pathologie, Universität zu Lübeck, Germany  

Copyright: © 2018 Lin, Chen, Hong, Zhao and Chen. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Hang Zhao, Sichuan University, Chengdu, China, zhaohangahy@scu.edu.cn