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Immunotherapy for hepatocellular carcinoma


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), a primary malignancy of the liver, is a threat to the health of all humans as a prevalent malignancy and is the sixth most common cancer worldwide. It is difficult to diagnose because symptoms do not show up until late in the disease, and patients often progress to the point where transplantation, resection, or even local treatment cannot be performed. The progression of HCC is regulated by the immune system, and immunotherapy enables the body's immune system's defenses to target liver cancer cells; therefore, immunotherapy has brought a new hope for the treatment of HCC. Currently, the main types of immunotherapies for liver cancer are: immune checkpoint inhibitors, liver cancer vaccines and cellular therapies. In this review, the progress of immunotherapy for the treatment of HCC is summarized.

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Fig. 1



Hepatocellular carcinoma


Hepatitis B virus


Hepatitis C virus


Barcelona Clinical Liver Cancer


Immune checkpoint inhibitors


Objective response rate


Median overall survival


Median progression-free survival


Median duration remission of response


Tumor-associated antigens




Replication-deficient adenovirus




T cytotoxicity


Overall survival


Multidrug resistance-associated protein 3


Human telomerase reverse transcriptase


Cancer testicular antigen


Dendritic cell


Antigen-presenting cells


Lipid nanoparticles


Granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor


Major histocompatibility complex


Protein tyrosine kinase


Tyrosine protein kinase


Epidermal growth factor receptor


Cytokine release syndrome


Tyrosine kinase inhibitors


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This study was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 81902914); Jiangsu Provincial Medical Youth Talent (No. QNRC2016043); and the Key Medical Science and Technology Development Project of Nanjing (No. ZKX16032.

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Mingzhen Zhou and Jie Shen composed the manuscript and provided figures. Baorui Liu reviewed and edited the manuscript. All authors interpreted the data, critically revised the manuscript for important intellectual contents and approved the final version.

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Correspondence to Jie Shen.

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Zhou, M., Liu, B. & Shen, J. Immunotherapy for hepatocellular carcinoma. Clin Exp Med (2022).

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  • HCC
  • Immunotherapy
  • ICIs
  • Vaccine
  • CAR-T