Immune checkpoint inhibitors provide considerable therapeutic benefit in a range of solid cancers as well as in a subgroup of hematological malignancies. Response rates are however suboptimal, and despite considerable efforts, predicting response to immune checkpoint inhibitors ahead of their administration in a given patient remains elusive. The study of the dynamics of the immune system and of the tumor under immune checkpoint blockade brought insight into the mechanisms of action of these therapeutic agents. Equally relevant are the mechanisms of adaptive resistance to immune checkpoint inhibitors that have been uncovered through this approach.
In this review, we discuss the dynamics of the immune system and of the tumor under immune checkpoint blockade emanating from recent studies on animal models and humans. We will focus on mechanisms of action and of resistance conveying information predictive of therapeutic response.