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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 918471, 19 pages
Review Article

Tumor Evasion from T Cell Surveillance

1Section Experimental Neurosurgery/Tumor Immunology, Department of Neurosurgery, University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus, TU Dresden, Fetscherstraβe 74, 01307 Dresden, Germany
2Institute of Immunology, Medical Faculty Carl Gustav Carus, TU Dresden, Fetscherstraβe 74, 01307 Dresden, Germany

Received 31 May 2011; Accepted 29 August 2011

Academic Editor: Julie Curtsinger

Copyright © 2011 Katrin Töpfer et al. 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.


An intact immune system is essential to prevent the development and progression of neoplastic cells in a process termed immune surveillance. During this process the innate and the adaptive immune systems closely cooperate and especially T cells play an important role to detect and eliminate tumor cells. Due to the mechanism of central tolerance the frequency of T cells displaying appropriate arranged tumor-peptide-specific-T-cell receptors is very low and their activation by professional antigen-presenting cells, such as dendritic cells, is frequently hampered by insufficient costimulation resulting in peripheral tolerance. In addition, inhibitory immune circuits can impair an efficient antitumoral response of reactive T cells. It also has been demonstrated that large tumor burden can promote a state of immunosuppression that in turn can facilitate neoplastic progression. Moreover, tumor cells, which mostly are genetically instable, can gain rescue mechanisms which further impair immune surveillance by T cells. Herein, we summarize the data on how tumor cells evade T-cell immune surveillance with the focus on solid tumors and describe approaches to improve anticancer capacity of T cells.