Complement in antibody-based tumor therapy

Stefanie Derer*, Frank J. Beurskens, Thies Rösner, Matthias Peipp, Thomas Valerius

*Corresponding author for this work
20 Citations (Scopus)


Monoclonal antibodies constitute a major treatment option for many tumor patients. Due to their specific recognition sites in their constant Fc regions, antibodies are able to trigger antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) or complement-dependent cytotoxicity (CDC). While the contribution of ADCC to clinical efficacy has been strengthened by observations that patients with favorable Fcg receptor polymorphisms display better response rates to therapeutic antibodies, the contribution of CDC to their clinical efficacy remains controversial. In the background of high expression of complement-regulatory proteins on tumor cells as well as of the fact that some therapeutic antibodies lack the capacity to trigger efficient CDC, strategies have been implemented to improve either the capacity of antibodies to initiate the complement cascade or to interfere with tumor cells' resistance mechanisms. Although both strategies have demonstrated therapeutic benefit in vitro and in murine models, CDC-enhanced antibodies-to the best of our knowledge-have not been clinically tested, and evidence for the potential of CDC-optimizing approaches has yet to be generated in humans. Hence, the potency of complement activation and its impact on the clinical efficacy of therapeutic antibodies still remains to be elucidated in clinical trials encompassing novel complement-enhancing molecules.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCritical Reviews in Immunology
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)199-214
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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