Tumor cell-intrinsic immunometabolism and precision nutrition in cancer immunotherapy

Elisabet Cuyàs, Sara Verdura, Begoña Martin-Castillo, Tomás Alarcón, Ruth Lupu, Joaquim Bosch-Barrera, Javier A. Menendez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


One of the greatest challenges in the cancer immunotherapy field is the need to biologically rationalize and broaden the clinical utility of immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs). The balance between metabolism and immune response has critical implications for overcoming the major weaknesses of ICIs, including their lack of universality and durability. The last decade has seen tremendous advances in understanding how the immune system’s ability to kill tumor cells requires the conspicuous metabolic specialization of T-cells. We have learned that cancer cell-associated metabolic activities trigger shifts in the abundance of some metabolites with immunosuppressory roles in the tumor microenvironment. Yet very little is known about the tumor cell-intrinsic metabolic traits that control the immune checkpoint contexture in cancer cells. Likewise, we lack a comprehensive understanding of how systemic metabolic perturbations in response to dietary interventions can reprogram the immune checkpoint landscape of tumor cells. We here review state-of-the-art molecular-and functional-level interrogation approaches to uncover how cell-autonomous metabolic traits and diet-mediated changes in nutrient availability and utilization might delineate new cancer cell-intrinsic metabolic dependencies of tumor immunogenicity. We propose that clinical monitoring and in-depth molecular evaluation of the cancer cell-intrinsic metabolic traits involved in primary, adaptive, and acquired resistance to cancer immunotherapy can provide the basis for improvements in therapeutic responses to ICIs. Overall, these approaches might guide the use of metabolic therapeutics and dietary approaches as novel strategies to broaden the spectrum of cancer patients and indications that can be effectively treated with ICI-based cancer immunotherapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1757
Pages (from-to)1-27
Number of pages27
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2020


  • Diet
  • Immune checkpoint inhibitors
  • Immune checkpoints
  • Metabolism
  • Nutrition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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