Cholangiocarcinoma (CCA), an aggressive tumor originating from both intra- and extra-hepatic biliary cells, represents an unmet need in liver oncology, as treatment remains largely unsatisfactory. A typical feature of CCA is the presence of a complex tumor microenvironment (TME) composed of neoplastic cells, a rich inflammatory infiltrate, and cancer-associated fibroblasts and desmoplastic matrix that makes it extremely chemoresistant to traditional chemotherapeutic drugs. In this review, we describe the cell populations within the TME, in particular those involved in the innate and adaptive immune response and how they interact with tumor cells and with matrix proteins. The TME is crucial for CCA to mount an immune escape response and is the battlefield where molecularly targeted therapies and immune therapy, particularly in combination, may actually prove their therapeutic value.

(Cadamuro, M., et al. – Hepatoma Research, March 2022)

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