The Epstein-Barr Virus Hacks Immune Checkpoints: Evidence and Consequences for Lymphoproliferative Disorders and Cancers

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The Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) is a gammaherpesvirus involved in the etiopathogenesis of a variety of human cancers, mostly of lymphoid and epithelial origin. The EBV infection participates in both cell transformation and tumor progression, also playing an important role in subverting immune responses against cancers. The homeostasis of the immune system is tightly regulated by inhibitory mechanisms affecting key immune effectors, such as T lymphocytes and NK cells. Collectively known as immune checkpoints, these mechanisms rely on a set of cellular receptors and ligands. These molecules may be candidate targets for immune checkpoints blockade—an emergent and promising modality of immunotherapy already proven to be valuable for a variety of human cancers. The EBV was lately suspected to interfere with the expression of immune checkpoint molecules, notably PD-1 and its ligands, found to be overexpressed in cases of Hodgkin lymphoma, nasopharyngeal, and gastric adenocarcinomas associated with the viral infection. Even though there is compelling evidence showing that the EBV interferes with other immune checkpoint regulators (e.g., CTLA-4, LAG-3, TIM-3, and VISTA), the published data are still scarce. Herein, we discuss the current state of the knowledge on how the EBV interferes with the activity of immune checkpoints regulators, as well as its implications considering the immune checkpoints blockade for clinical management of the EBV-associated malignancies, notably lymphomas.




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Biomolecules, v. 12, n. 3, 2022.

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