Immunotherapy-Based Treatments of Hepatocellular Carcinoma: AJR Expert Panel Narrative Review

Roberto Cannella, Sara Lewis, Leonardo da Fonseca, Maxime Ronot, Jordi Rimola

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The advent of immunotherapy for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has changed the treatment landscape and conferred a survival benefit on patients with advanced HCC, who typically have a very poor prognosis. The most pronounced improvements in response, as documented by standardized response criteria based on CT or MRI, have been achieved when immunotherapy is combined with other systemic or locoregional therapies. Immune checkpoint inhibitor treatments result in unique patterns on CT and MRI that challenge the application of conventional response criteria such as RECIST, modified RECIST, and European Association for the Study of the Liver criteria. Thus, newer criteria have been developed to gauge therapy response or disease progression for patients receiving immunotherapy, including immune-related RECIST (iRECIST) and immune-modified RECIST (imRECIST), though these remain unvalidated. In this review, we describe the current landscape of immunotherapeutic agents used for HCC, summarize the results of published studies, review the pathobiologic mechanisms that provide a rationale for the use of these agents, and report on the status of response assessment for immunotherapy either alone or in combination with other treatment options. Finally, consensus statements are provided to inform radiologists about essential considerations in the era of a rapidly changing treatment paradigm for patients with HCC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)533-546
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • CT
  • MRI
  • hepatocellular carcinoma
  • immune checkpoint inhibitors
  • immunotherapy
  • locoregional therapy
  • multikinase inhibitors


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