Immunological Aspects of Neuroblastoma

  • Peter B. Dent


Neuroblastoma has attracted the interest of oncologists and immunologists because it has a number of biological properties, which may provide some insight into the neoplastic process and the host’s antitumor defense mechanisms. These features which have recently been reviewed1, include an unusually high incidence of spontaneous regression. On the basis of autopsy studies of adrenal glands taken from infants dying from other causes, it has been calculated that the incidence of neuroblastoma in situ exceeds that of clinically diagnosed neuroblastoma by almost 100 fold. It has been postulated that some host control mechanism is responsible for this phenomenon. It is not yet clear whether this disparity is due to some sort of differentiative influence through which neuroblastomas can differentiate into benign ganglioneuromas; however, it has been recognized for several years that human neuroblastoma can display evidence of maturation when cultivated in vitro 2. Recently, Schubert et al.3 have shown that suitable modifications of culture conditions can revèrsibly alter the transplantable murine neuroblastoma from a typical neuroblast to a cell with neurite outgrowth resembling a more mature nerve cell. Whether there is an accompanying change in the malignant behavior of such cells is not known. Further studies in this system are urgently needed to determine whether induction of differentiation in a neoplastic cell might control the malignant process.


Neuroblastoma Cell Antitumor Immunity Neuroblastoma Patient Immune Lymphocyte Killer Lymphocyte 
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© Ontario Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter B. Dent
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PediatricsMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada

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