Clinical and Translational Oncology

, Volume 21, Issue 6, pp 713–720 | Cite as

Cancer immunotherapy of patients with HIV infection

  • M. Gonzalez-CaoEmail author
  • J. Martinez-Picado
  • N. Karachaliou
  • R. Rosell
  • A. Meyerhans
Review Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. The Immune System and Cancer\Immunotherapy


Cancer immunotherapy with antibodies against immune checkpoints has made impressive advances in the last several years. The most relevant drugs target programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) expressed on T cells or its ligand, the programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1), expressed on cancer cells, and cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated protein 4 (CTLA-4). Unfortunately, cancer patients with HIV infection are usually excluded from cancer clinical trials, because there are concerns about the safety and the anti-tumoral activity of these novel therapies in patients with HIV infection. Several retrospective studies and some case reports now support the notion that antibodies against immune checkpoints are safe and active in cancer patients with HIV infection, but prospective data in these patients are lacking. In addition, signs of antiviral activity with increase in CD4 T cell counts, plasma viremia reduction or decrease in the viral reservoir have been reported in some of the patients treated, although no patient achieved a complete clearance of the viral reservoir. Here we briefly summarize all clinical cases reported in the literature, as well as ongoing clinical trials testing novel immunotherapy drugs in cancer patients with HIV infection.


Cancer HIV Immunotherapy PD-1 



A.M. is supported by a grant from the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness and FEDER Grant no. SAF2016-75505-R (AEI/MINEICO/FEDER, UE), and the “María de Maeztu” Programme for Units of Excellence in R&D (MDM-2014-0370). J.M-P’ team is supported by the Spanish Secretariat for Research through Grants SAF2016-80033-R and RTC-2016-5324-1, by the Foundation for AIDS Research amfAR (109858-64-RSRL), as well as by non-restricted grants from Merck, AstraZeneca, Gilead, and ViiV Healthcare. Work in the Dr. Rosell laboratory is partially supported by a Grant from La Caixa Foundation, and by a European Grant (ELBA no. 765492).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

Research grants from funding agencies are commented in the Acknowledgement section. DURVAST trial (Sponsor: Spanish Lung Cancer Group; Coordinator: Dra Gonzalez Cao) has the financial support from Astra Zeneca (Spain).

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

For this type of study informed consent is not required.


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Copyright information

© Federación de Sociedades Españolas de Oncología (FESEO) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dr. Rosell Oncology Institute (IOR)Dexeus University Hospital, Quironsalud GroupBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.AIDS Research Institute IrsiCaixaBadalonaSpain
  3. 3.University of Vic-Central University of Catalonia (UVic-UCC)VicSpain
  4. 4.Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA)BarcelonaSpain
  5. 5.Dr. Rosell Oncology Institute (IOR)Sagrat Cor University Hospital, Quironsalud GroupBarcelonaSpain
  6. 6.Catalan Institute of OncologyGermans Trias i Pujol University HospitalBadalonaSpain
  7. 7.Infection Biology Laboratory, Department of Experimental and Health Sciences (DCEXS)Universitat Pompeu FabraBarcelonaSpain

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