New insights into epigenetic regulation of resistance to PD-1/PD-L1 blockade cancer immunotherapy: mechanisms and therapeutic opportunities

Dai M., Liu M., Yang H., Küçük A. P. D. C., You H.

EXPERIMENTAL HEMATOLOGY & ONCOLOGY, vol.11, pp.101, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 11
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1186/s40164-022-00356-0
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, EMBASE, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Page Numbers: pp.101
  • Dokuz Eylül University Affiliated: Yes


Programmed cell death protein 1(PD-1) is a type of immune-inhibitory checkpoint protein, which delivers inhibitory signals to cytotoxic T cells by binding to the programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1) displayed on the surface of cancer cells. Antibodies blocking PD-1/PD-L1 interaction have been extensively used in treatment of human malignancies and have achieved promising outcomes in recent years. However, gradual development of resistance to PD-1/PD-L1 blockade has decreased the effectiveness of this immunotherapy in cancer patients. The underlying epigenetic mechanisms need to be elucidated for application of novel strategies overcoming this immunotherapy resistance. Epigenetic aberrations contribute to cancerogenesis by promoting different hallmarks of cancer. Moreover, these alterations may lead to therapy resistance, thereby leading to poor prognosis. Recently, the epigenetic regulatory drugs have been shown to decrease the resistance to PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors in certain cancer patients. Inhibitors of the non-coding RNAs, DNA methyltransferases, and histone deacetylases combined with PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors have shown considerable therapeutic efficacy against carcinomas as well as blood cancers. Importantly, DNA methylation-mediated epigenetic silencing can inhibit antigen processing and presentation, which promotes cancerogenesis and aggravates resistance to PD-1/PD-L1 blockade immunotherapy. These observations altogether suggest that the combination of the epigenetic regulatory drugs with PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors may present potential solution to the resistance caused by monotherapy of PD-1/PD-L1 immunotherapy.