Tumors and the danger model.
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This article reviews the evidence for the danger model in the context of immune response to tumors and the insufficiency of the immune system to eliminate tumor growth. Despite their potential immunogenicity tumors do not induce significant immune responses which could destroy malignant cells. According to the danger model, the immune surveillance system fails to detect tumor antigens because transformed cells do not send any danger signals which could activate dendritic cells and initiate an immune response. Instead, tumor cells or antigen presenting cells turn off the responding T cells and induce tolerance. The studies reviewed herein based on model tumor antigens, recombinant viral vectors and detection of tumor specific T cells by MHC/peptide tetramers underscore the critical role of tumor antigen presentation and the context in which it occurs. They indicate that antigen presentation only by activated but not by cancer or resting dendritic cells is necessary for the induction of immune responses to tumor antigens. It becomes apparent that the inability of dendritic cells to become activated provides a biological niche for tumor escape from immune destruction and seems to be a principal mechanism for the failure of tumor immune surveillance.
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