Resistance to immune checkpoint inhibitors and the tumor microenvironment

Shusuke Kawashima, Yosuke Togashi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) have contributed significantly to the treatment of various types of cancer, including skin cancer. However, not all patients respond; some patients do not respond at all (primary resistance), while others experience recurrence after the initial response (acquired resistance). Therefore, overcoming ICI resistance is an urgent priority. Numerous ICI resistance mechanisms have been reported. They are seemingly quite complex, varying from patient to patient. However, most involve T-cell activation processes, especially in the tumor microenvironment (TME). ICIs exert their effects in the TME by reactivating suppressed T cells through inhibition of immune checkpoint molecules, such as cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen-4 (CTLA-4) and programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1). Thus, this review focuses on the resistance mechanisms based on the T-cell activation process. Here, we classify the main mechanisms of ICI resistance into three categories based on (1) antigen recognition, (2) T-cell migration and infiltration, and (3) effector functions of T cells. By identifying and understanding these resistance mechanisms individually, including unknown mechanisms, we seek to contribute to the development of novel treatments to overcome ICI resistance.

Original languageEnglish
JournalExperimental Dermatology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


  • acquired resistance
  • antitumor immunity
  • immune checkpoint inhibitors
  • primary resistance
  • tumor microenvironment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology


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