Update on Radiotherapy Changes of Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma Tumor Microenvironment

Dao Qi Zhu, Chao Su, Jing Jun Li, Ai Wu Li, Ying Luv, Qin Fan


The utilization of radiotherapy (RT) serves as the principal approach for managing nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). Consequently, it is imperative to investigate the correlation between the radiation microenvironment and radiation resistance in NPC. PubMed and China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI) databases were accessed to perform a search utilizing the English keywords nasopharyngeal cancer, radiotherapy, and microenvironment. The search time spanned from the establishment of the database until January 20, 2023. A total of 82 articles were included. The post-radiation tumor microenvironment (TME), or the radiation microenvironment, includes several components, such as the radiation-immune microenvironment and the radiation-hypoxic microenvironment. The radiation-immune microenvironment includes various factors like immune cells, signaling molecules, and extracellular matrix. RT can reshape the TME, leading to immune responses with both cytotoxic effects (T cells, B cells, natural killer (NK) cells) and immune escape mechanisms (regulatory T cells (Tregs), macrophages). RT enhances immune responses through DNA release, type I interferons, and immune cell recruitment. Radiation-hypoxic microenvironment affects metabolism and molecular changes. RT-induced hypoxia causes vascular changes, fibrosis, and vessel compression, leading to tissue hypoxia. Hypoxia activates hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1a/2a, promoting angiogenesis and glycolysis in tumor cells. TME changes due to hypoxia also involve immune suppressive cells like myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs), tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs), and Tregs. The radiation microenvironment is involved in radiation resistance and holds a significant effect on the prognosis of patients with NPC. Exploring the radiation microenvironment provides new insights into RT and NPC research.

World J Oncol. 2023;14(5):350-357
doi: https://doi.org/10.14740/wjon1645


Nasopharyngeal carcinoma; Radiation microenvironment; Immune microenvironment; Radiation hypoxia microenvironment

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