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ChemoImmunoModulation: Immune Regulation by the Antineoplastic Chemotherapeutic Agents

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Since 1948, when Farber et al. introduced aminopterin, the first chemotherapeutic agent, more than 100 such agents have come into use. Initially, antitumor chemotherapies were thought to produce only antiproliferative or cytotoxic effects on dividing tumor cells as it was often associated with the damage to healthy tissues and the development of resistant tumor clones. However, that view has been changing as a consequence of recent demonstrations that several antineoplastic drugs, even at low doses, have antiangiogenic and sometimes immunomodulating effects. In addition, new studies indicate that lowering the dose of conventional cytotoxic agents and combining chemotherapy with other modalities may not only decrease the toxicity of conventional chemotherapy, but also up-regulate the efficacy of different anticancer therapies. Giving chemotherapy in this manner has several potential advantages, including impediment of the onset of mutation-dependent mechanisms of acquired drug resistance and increase in the efficacy and durability of combinatorial therapeutic modalities. Certain “immunogenic” forms of cancer chemotherapy may cause indirect activation of immune cells due to the accessibility of tumor antigens and certain “danger” signals. Furthermore, new findings indicate that several chemotherapeutic agents can directly activate immune cells when used in ultra low noncytotoxic concentrations, the new phenomenon that was termed chemoimmunomodulation. The goal of this review is to analyze the immune modulating properties of antineoplastic chemotherapeutic agents and present new evidence of the immunostimulating potentials of several agents used in low and ultra low nontoxic doses. Therapeutic potentials of combined chemo-immunotherapeutic regimens have been extensively reviewed in a variety of recent publications and will not be discussed.
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Keywords: Ayurveda; Chemotherapy; aminopterin; antitumor; chemoimmunomodulation; chemomodulation; immunogenic; immunostimulation; immunosuppression; paclitaxel

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2012

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  • Current Medicinal Chemistry covers all the latest and outstanding developments in medicinal chemistry and rational drug design. Each issue contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of the current topics in medicinal chemistry. Current Medicinal Chemistry is an essential journal for every medicinal chemist who wishes to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments.
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