Cholangiocarcinoma: what are the most valuable therapeutic targets–cancer-associated fibroblasts, immune cells, or beyond T cells?

Juan Wang, Emilien Loeuillard, Gregory J. Gores, Sumera I. Ilyas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: CCAs are dense and desmoplastic tumors with an abundant tumor microenviroment (TME). The evolving TME is characterized by reciprocal interactions between cancer cells and their environment and is essential in facilitating tumor progression. The TME has nonimmune and immune components. Nonimmune cell types include cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) and endothelial cells accompanying tumor angiogenesis. Immune cell types include elements of the innate and adaptive immune response, and can have pro-tumor or antitumor roles. The TME can shape treatment response and resistance. Therefore, elements of the TME are attractive therapeutic targets. TME targeting therapies have been evaluated in preclinical and clinical studies but only a small subset of patients has a meaningful response. Areas covered: We discuss the TME components and potential TME targeting strategies. Literature search was performed on PubMed and until October 2021. Expert opinion: Elucidating the CCA TME is essential for developing effective treatment strategies. Preclinical models that recapitulate the disease (such as organoids) are important tools in uncovering the intricate cross talk in the CCA TME. Characterization of patient-derived specimens using multi-omic and single-omic technologies can dissect the cellular interplay in the CCA TME, which can guide development of effective treatment strategies and identify biomarkers for patient stratification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)835-845
Number of pages11
JournalExpert opinion on therapeutic targets
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2021


  • Cholangiocarcinoma
  • biliary tract
  • cancer associated fibroblast
  • immune cells
  • immune checkpoint inhibition
  • myeloid cells
  • tumor immunology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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