Malignancies caused by HPV represent a model clinical setting in which to test principles of immunotherapies, and to discover the consequences of interactions between tumors and their attendant immune milieu. A tumor-specific, non-‘self’ antigenic target is known, as HPV cancers are driven by constitutive and functionally obligate expression of the E6 and E7 viral oncoproteins, which bind and inactivate p53 and pRb, respectively. HPV disease can also be immunogenic; a growing body of evidence demonstrates that HPV-specific T-cell responses can mediate concomitant histologic regression and clearance of detectable virus in subsets of patients who have cervical HSILs. However, HPV researchers are faced with issues common to the development of effective immune-based therapies for every solid tumor, including determining the mechanisms that shape how a tissue microenvironment renders immune cells dysfunctional, deciphering the immunomodulatory effects of other treatment modalities such as targeted therapies, chemotherapy, and radiation, and identifying contributions to immune functional polarization mediated by tissue-specific microbiota. Insights gained from deconvolution of the cervical lesional microenvironment will be discussed.
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