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Clinical and Developmental Immunology
Volume 2010, Article ID 236378, 14 pages
Review Article

T Cell-Tumor Interaction Directs the Development of Immunotherapies in Head and Neck Cancer

1Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Campus Benjamin Franklin, 12200 Berlin, Germany
2Fondazione Humanitas per la Ricerca, 20089 Rozzano, Italy
3Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Universität Essen, 45147 Essen, Germany
4Department of Gynecology, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Campus Benjamin Franklin and Campus Mitte, 12200 Berlin, Germany

Received 17 July 2010; Accepted 16 October 2010

Academic Editor: Eiji Matsuura

Copyright © 2010 A. E. Albers 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.


The competent immune system controls disease effectively due to induction, function, and regulation of effector lymphocytes. Immunosurveillance is exerted mostly by cytotoxic T-lymphocytes (CTLs) while specific immune suppression is associated with tumor malignancy and progression. In squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck, the presence, activity, but also suppression of tumor-specific CTL have been demonstrated. Functional CTL may exert a selection pressure on the tumor cells that consecutively escape by a combination of molecular and cellular evasion mechanisms. Certain of these mechanisms target antitumor effector cells directly or indirectly by affecting cells that regulate CTL function. This results in the dysfunction or apoptosis of lymphocytes and dysregulated lymphocyte homeostasis. Another important tumor-escape mechanism is to avoid recognition by dysregulation of antigen processing and presentation. Thus, both induction of functional CTL and susceptibility of the tumor and its microenvironment to become T cell targets should be considered in CTL-based immunotherapy.