Despite comprising a very small proportion of circulating blood leukocytes, basophils are potent immune effector cells. The high-affinity receptor for IgE (FcɛRI) is expressed on the basophil cell surface and powerful inflammatory mediators such as histamine, granzyme B, and cytokines are stored in dense cytoplasmic granules, ready to be secreted in response to a range of immune stimuli. Basophils play key roles in eliciting potent effector functions in allergic diseases and type 1 hypersensitivity. Beyond allergies, basophils can be recruited to tissues in chronic and auto-immune inflammation, and in response to parasitic, bacterial, and viral infections. While their activation states and functions can be influenced by Th2-biased inflammatory signals, which are also known features of several tumor types, basophils have received little attention in cancer. Here, we discuss the presence and functional significance of basophils in the circulation of cancer patients and in the tumor microenvironment (TME). Interrogating publicly available datasets, we conduct gene expression analyses to explore basophil signatures and associations with clinical outcomes in several cancers. Furthermore, we assess how basophils can be harnessed to predict hypersensi-tivity to cancer treatments and to monitor the desensitization of patients to oncology drugs, using assays such as the basophil activation test (BAT).
- Basophil activation test (BAT)
- Gene expression
- Type I hypersensitivity