Immunogenic Cell Death Driven by Radiation-Impact on the Tumor Microenvironment.
Immunogenic cell death (ICD) is a particular form of cell death that can initiate adaptive immunity against antigens expressed by dying cells in the absence of exogenous adjuvants. This implies that cells undergoing ICD not only express antigens that are not covered by thymic tolerance, but also deliver adjuvant-like signals that enable the recruitment and maturation of antigen-presenting cells toward an immunostimulatory phenotype, culminating with robust cross-priming of antigen-specific CD8+ T cells. Such damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs), which encompass cellular proteins, small metabolites and cytokines, are emitted in a spatiotemporally defined manner in the context of failing adaptation to stress. Radiation therapy (RT) is a bona fide inducer of ICD, at least when employed according to specific doses and fractionation schedules. Here, we discuss the mechanisms whereby DAMPs emitted by cancer cells undergoing RT-driven ICD alter the functional configuration of the tumor microenvironment.