The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 59: 131 - 140 (2015)

Vol 59, Issue 1-2-3

Special Issue: Cell Death in Development & Tumors

Immunogenic cell death

Published: 2 September 2015

Abhishek D. Garg, Aleksandra M. Dudek-Peric, Erminia Romano and Patrizia Agostinis*

Cell Death Research & Therapy (CDRT) Laboratory, Department for Cellular and Molecular Medicine, KULeuven University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium


Currently, it is widely acknowledged that a proactive anticancer immunosurveillance mechanism takes part in the rejection of neoplastic lesions before they progress towards a benign or malignant tumour. However in cases of very aggressive neoplastic lesions consisting of cells with high mutational diversity, cancer cell variants might be formed that are capable of evading host defence systems against uncontrolled proliferation and anticancer immunosurveillance. This is mainly accomplished through the exhibition of low immunogenicity, which is a particularly important stumbling block in the revival of long-lasting as well as stable anticancer immunity. Recently, it has emerged emphatically that inciting a cancer cell death routine, associated with the activation of danger signalling pathways evoking emission of damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs), markedly increases the immunogenicity of dying cancer cells. This cell death pathway has been termed “immunogenic cell death” (ICD). In the present review we introduce this concept and discuss its characteristics in detail. We also discuss in detail the various molecular, immunological and operational determinants of ICD.


immunogenicity, immunogenic cell death, cancer, danger signals, antigen, damage-associated molecular patterns, danger signalling, ER stress, photodynamic therapy (PDT), chemotherapy

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