Application potential of toll-like receptors in cancer immunotherapy: Systematic review

Ming Shi, Xi Chen, Kangruo Ye, Yuanfei Yao, Yu Li
Medicine (Baltimore) 2016, 95 (25): e3951
Toll-like receptors (TLRs), as the most important pattern recognition receptors in innate immunity, play a pivotal role in inducing immune response through recognition of microbial invaders or specific agonists. Recent studies have suggested that TLRs could serve as important regulators in the development of a variety of cancer. However, increasing evidences have shown that TLRs may display quite opposite outcomes in cancer development. Although several potential therapeutic Toll-like receptor ligands have been found, the mechanism and therapy prospect of TLRs in cancer development has to be further elucidated to accelerate the clinical application. By performing a systematic review of the present findings on TLRs in cancer immunology, we attempted to evaluate the therapeutic potential of TLRs in cancer therapy and elucidate the potential mechanism of cancer progress regulated by TLR signaling and the reported targets on TLRs for clinical application. An electronic databases search was conducted in PubMed, Chinese Scientific Journal Database, and Chinese Biomedical Literature Database from their inception to February 1, 2016. The following keywords were used to search the databases: Toll-like receptors, cancer therapy, therapeutic target, innate immunity. Of 244 studies that were identified, 97 nonrelevant studies were excluded. In total, 147 full-text articles were assessed, and from these, 54 were excluded as they did not provide complete key information. Thus, 93 studies were considered eligible and included in the analysis. According to the data from the included trials, 14 TLR ligands (77.8%) from 82 studies have been demonstrated to display antitumor property in various cancers, whereas 4 ligands (22.2%) from 11 studies promote tumors. Among them, only 3 TLR ligands have been approved for cancer therapy, and 9 ligands were in clinical trials. In addition, the potential mechanism of recently reported targets on TLRs for clinical application was also evaluated in this review. We show that targeting TLRs in cancer immunotherapy is a promising strategy for cancer therapy, and the specific TLR ligands, either alone or combination, exhibit antitumor potential.

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