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Immunology of the peritoneal cavity: Relevance for host-tumor relation
  1. B Melichar1 and
  2. R.S Freedman2
  1. 1 Departments of Oncology & Radiotherapy and Medicine, Charles University Medical School and Teaching Hospital, Hradec Králové, Czech Republic, and
  2. 2 Department of Gynecologic Oncology, University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX.


Abstract. Melichar B, Freedman RS. Immunology of the peritoneal cavity: relevance for host-tumor relation.

The peritoneal membrane, formed by a single layer of mesothelial cells, lines the largest cavity of the human body. Anatomic structures of the peritoneal cavity, along with resident leukocyte populations, play an important role in the defense against microorganisms invading by breaching the gut integrity or ascending through the female genital tract. Local immune mechanisms in the peritoneal cavity are also important in patients undergoing peritoneal dialysis and in women with endometriosis. There is now extensive evidence demonstrating the significance of peritoneal immune mechanisms in the control of metastatic spread. Leukocytes belonging to both the innate and adaptive immune systems are present in the peritoneal cavity of normal subjects as well as in patients with intra-abdominal cancer. There is now increased understanding of the mechanisms that not only allow the tumor cells to escape the detection and destruction by the host immune system, but also to use the inflammatory mechanisms to promote tumor growth and spread inside the peritoneal cavity. Malignant ascites represents a model for the study of the interaction between tumor cells and the host immune system as well for the analysis of the tumor microenviroment. The peritoneal immune system may be stimulated by intraperitoneal administration of biologic agents. This peritoneal immunotherapy may be used for palliation of malignant ascites, or as a consolidation strategy in patients with minimal residual disease.

  • cancer
  • immunotherapy
  • peritoneum
  • tumor immunology

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  • Supported, in part, by the grant of the Internal Grant Agency of the Czech Republic 5196–3.