Immunomodulatory effects of radiotherapy

Sharda Kumari, Shibani Mukherjee, Debapriya Sinha, Salim Abdisalaam, Sunil Krishnan, Aroumougame Asaithamby

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Radiation therapy (RT), an integral component of curative treatment for many malignancies, can be administered via an increasing array of techniques. In this review, we summarize the properties and application of different types of RT, specifically, conventional therapy with x-rays, stereotactic body RT, and proton and carbon particle therapies. We highlight how low-linear energy transfer (LET) radiation induces simple DNA lesions that are efficiently repaired by cells, whereas high-LET radiation causes complex DNA lesions that are difficult to repair and that ultimately enhance cancer cell killing. Additionally, we discuss the immunogenicity of radiation-induced tumor death, elucidate the molecular mechanisms by which radiation mounts innate and adaptive immune responses and explore strategies by which we can increase the efficacy of these mechanisms. Understanding the mechanisms by which RT modulates immune signaling and the key players involved in modulating the RT-mediated immune response will help to improve therapeutic efficacy and to identify novel immunomodulatory drugs that will benefit cancer patients undergoing targeted RT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8151
Pages (from-to)1-29
Number of pages29
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • Abscopal effects
  • Cancer vaccines
  • Carbon ion therapy
  • Charged particle therapy
  • Clustered DNA damage
  • Immune signaling
  • Radiation therapy
  • Tumor antigens

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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