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Principles of immunology and its nuances in the central nervous system.

  • Author(s): Dunn, Gavin P
  • Okada, Hideho
  • et al.

Cancer immunotherapy represents the biggest change in the cancer treatment landscape in the last several years. Indeed, the clinical successes in several cancer types have generated widespread enthusiasm that immune-based treatments may influence the management of patients with malignant brain tumors as well. A number of promising clinical trials in this area are currently ongoing in neuro-oncology, and a wave of additional efforts are sure to follow. However, the basic immunology underlying immunotherapy-and the nuances unique to the immunobiology in the central nervous system-is often not in the daily lexicon of the practicing neuro-oncologist and neurosurgeon. To this end, here we provide a timely and working overview of key principles of fundamental immunology as a pragmatic context for understanding where therapeutic efforts may act in the cellular dynamics of the immune response. Moreover, we review the issues of lymphatic drainage, antigen presentation, and the blood-brain barrier as considerations that are germane to thinking about immunity to tumors arising in the brain. Together, these topics will provide a foundation for the exciting efforts in immune-based treatments that will hopefully provide real benefit to brain tumor patients.

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