Despite the growing number of preclinical and clinical trials focused on immunotherapy for the treatment of malignant gliomas, the prognosis for this disease remains grim. Cancer immunotherapy seeks to recruit an effective immune response to eliminate tumor cells. To date, cancer vaccines have shown only limited effectiveness because of our incomplete understanding of the necessary effector cells and mechanisms that yield efficient tumor clearance. CD8+ T cell cytotoxic activity has long been proposed as the primary effector function necessary for tumor regression. However, there is increasing evidence that indicates that components of the immune system other than CD8+ T cells play important roles in tumor eradication and control. The following review should provide an understanding of the mechanisms involved in an effective antitumor response to guide future therapeutic designs. The information provided suggests an alternate means of effective tumor clearance in malignant glioma to the canonical CD8+ cytotoxic T cell mechanism.
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