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Critical Reviews™ in Immunology
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ISSN Imprimer: 1040-8401
ISSN En ligne: 2162-6472

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Critical Reviews™ in Immunology

DOI: 10.1615/CritRevImmunol.2013006813
pages 137-164

The Immune System in the Pathogenesis of Ovarian Cancer

Bridget Charbonneau
Department of Health Sciences Research, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905
Ellen L. Goode
Department of Health Sciences Research, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905
Kimberly R. Kalli
Division of Oncology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905
Keith L. Knutson
Department of Immunology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905
Melissa S. DeRycke
Department of Health Sciences Research, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905


Clinical outcomes in ovarian cancer are heterogeneous even when considering common features such as stage, response to therapy, and grade. This disparity in outcomes warrants further exploration into tumor and host characteristics. One compelling host characteristic is the immune response to ovarian cancer. While several studies have confirmed a prominent role for the immune system in modifying the clinical course of the disease, recent genetic and protein analyses also suggest a role in disease incidence. Recent studies also show that anti-tumor immunity is often negated by immune suppressive cells present in the tumor microenvironment. These suppressive immune cells also directly enhance the pathogenesis through the release of various cytokines and chemokines, which together form an integrated pathologic network. Thus, future research into immunotherapy targeting ovarian cancer will likely become increasingly focused on combination approaches that simultaneously augment immunity while preventing local immune suppression or by disrupting critical cytokine networks.

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