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Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2009 Jul;234(7):713-25. doi: 10.3181/0901-MR-12. Epub 2009 May 8.

The epidermal growth factor receptor: a link between inflammation and liver cancer.

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  • 1Division of Hepatology and Gene Therapy, CIMA-Universidad de Navarra, 31008 Pamplona, Spain. cberasain@unav.es

Abstract

Epidemiological studies have established that many tumours occur in association with persistent inflammation. One clear example of inflammation-related cancer is hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). HCC slowly unfolds on a background of chronic inflammation triggered by exposure to infectious agents (hepatotropic viruses), toxic compounds (ethanol), or metabolic impairment. The molecular links that connect inflammation and cancer are not completely known, but evidence gathered over the past few years is beginning to define the precise mechanisms. A central role for cytokines such as interleukin-6 (IL-6) and IL-1 (alpha and beta) in liver cancer has been established in experimental models. Besides these inflammatory mediators, mounting evidence points to the dysregulation of specific growth and survival-related pathways in HCC development. Among them is the pathway governed by the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), which can be bound and activated by a broad family of ligands. Of special relevance is the fact that the EGFR engages in extensive crosstalk with other signaling pathways, serving as a "signaling hub" for an increasing list of growth factors, cytokines, and inflammatory mediators. In this review, we summarize the most recent evidences supporting a role for the EGFR system in inflammation-related cell signaling, with special emphasis in liver inflammation and HCC. The molecular dissection of the pathways connecting the inflammatory reaction and neoplasia will facilitate the development of novel and more effective antitumor strategies.

PMID:
19429859
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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