Main Article Content
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), with rising incidence rates, is the most commonly occurring malignancy of the liver that exerts a heavy disease burden particularly in developing countries. A dynamic cross-talk between immune cells and malignant cells in tumor microenvironment governs the hepatocarcinogenesis. Monitoring immune contexture as prognostic markers is quite relevant and essential to evaluate clinical outcomes and to envisage response to therapy. In this review, we present an overview of the prognostic value of various tumor infiltrating immune cells and the continually evolving immune checkpoints as novel biomarkers during HCC. Tumor infiltration by immune cells such as T cells, NK cells and dendritic cells is linked with improved prognosis and favorable outcome, while the intra-tumoral presence of regulatory T cells (Tregs) or myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) on the other hand is associated with poor clinical outcome. In addition to these, the overexpression of negative regulatory molecules on tumor cells also provides inhibitory signals to T cells and is associated with poor prognosis. The limitation of a single marker can be overcome by advanced prognostication models and algorithms that evaluate multiple prognostic factors and ultimately aid the clinician in improving the disease free and overall survival of HCC patients.
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