Immune aspects of hepatocellular carcinoma: From immune markers for early detection to immunotherapy

Ângelo Z. Mattos, Jose D. Debes, Andre Boonstra, Arndt Vogel, Angelo A. Mattos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most prevalent cancers and one of the main causes of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Most HCCs develop in an inflammatory microenvironment, and mounting evidence emphasizes the importance of immune aspects in hepatocarcinogenesis. In normal physiology, both innate and adaptive immune responses are responsible for eliminating malignantly transformed cells, thus preventing the development of liver cancer. However, in the setting of impaired natural killer cells and exhaustion of T cells, HCC can develop. The immunogenic features of HCC have relevant clinical implications. There is a large number of immune markers currently being studied for the early detection of liver cancer, which would be critical in order to improve surveillance programs. Moreover, novel immunotherapies have recently been proven to be effective, and the combination of atezolizumab and bevacizumab is currently the most effective treatment for advanced HCC. It is expected that in the near future different subgroups of patients will benefit from specific immunotherapy. The better we understand the immune aspects of HCC, the greater the benefit to patients through surveillance aiming for early detection of liver cancer, which allows for curative treatments, and, in cases of advanced disease, through the selection of the best possible therapy for each individual

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1132-1143
Number of pages12
JournalWorld Journal of Gastrointestinal Oncology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported by European-Latin

Funding Information:
American ESCALON consortium, funded by the EU Horizon 2020 Program, No. 825510; and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program (to Debes JD).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.


  • Biomarker
  • Hepatocarcinogenesis
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Immunology
  • Immunotherapy
  • Surveillance

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Review


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