Cellular and molecular targets for the immunotherapy of hepatocellular carcinoma

Vikrant Rai, Joe Abdo, Abdullah N. Alsuwaidan, Swati Agrawal, Poonam Sharma, Devendra K. Agrawal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Liver cancer is the sixth most common cancer worldwide and 3rd most common cause of cancer-related death. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) represents more than 90% of primary liver cancer and is a major public health problem. Due to the advanced stages of HCC at the time of diagnosis, utilizing the conventional treatment for solid tumors frequently ends with treatment failure, recurrence, or poor survival. HCC is highly refractory to chemotherapy and other systemic treatments, and locoregional therapies or selective internal radiation therapies are largely palliative. Considering how the pathogenesis of HCC often induces an immunosuppressed state which is further amplified by post-treatment recurrence and reactivation, immunostimulation provides a potential novel approach for the treatment of HCC. Immune response(s) of the body may be potentiated by immunomodulation of various effector cells such as B-cells, T-cells, Treg cells, natural killer cells, dendritic cells, cytotoxic T-lymphocytes, and other antigen-presenting cells; cellular components such as genes and microRNA; and molecules such as proteins, proteoglycans, surface receptors, chemokines, and cytokines. Targeting these effectors individually has helped in the development of newer therapeutic approaches; however, combinational therapies targeting multi-faceted biomarkers have yielded better results. Still, there is a need for further research to develop novel therapeutic strategies which may act as either complementary or an alternative treatment to the standard therapy protocols of HCC. This review focuses on potential cellular and molecular targets, as well as the role of virotherapy and combinational therapy in the treatment of HCC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-36
Number of pages24
JournalMolecular and Cellular Biochemistry
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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