Emerging role of circulating tumor cells in immunotherapy

Alexey Rzhevskiy*, Alina Kapitannikova, Polina Malinina, Arthur Volovetsky, Hamidreza Aboulkheyr Es, Arutha Kulasinghe, Jean Paul Thiery, Anna Maslennikova, Andrei V. Zvyagin, Majid Ebrahimi Warkiani

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


Over the last few years, immunotherapy, in particular, immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy, has revolutionized the treatment of several types of cancer. At the same time, the uptake in clinical oncology has been slow owing to the high cost of treatment, associated toxicity profiles and variability of the response to treatment between patients. In response, personalized approaches based on predictive biomarkers have emerged as new tools for patient stratification to achieve effective immunotherapy. Recently, the enumeration and molecular analysis of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) have been highlighted as prognostic biomarkers for the management of cancer patients during chemotherapy and for targeted therapy in a personalized manner. The expression of immune checkpoints on CTCs has been reported in a number of solid tumor types and has provided new insight into cancer immunotherapy management. In this review, we discuss recent advances in the identification of immune checkpoints using CTCs and shed light on the potential applications of CTCs towards the identification of predictive biomarkers for immunotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8057-8075
Number of pages19
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Cancer
  • Circulating tumor cells
  • Immune checkpoint inhibitors
  • Immunotherapy
  • Personalized medicine


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