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Cancer Treat Rev. 2007 Aug;33(5):448-60. Epub 2007 May 15.

The role of pro-inflammatory cytokines in cancer treatment-induced alimentary tract mucositis: pathobiology, animal models and cytotoxic drugs.

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Oral Pathology, School of Dentistry, Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Adelaide, North Terrace, Adelaide SA 5005, Australia.


Alimentary tract (AT) mucositis can be a major problem for patients undergoing cancer treatment. It has significant clinical and economic consequences and is a major factor that can compromise the provision of optimal treatment for patients. The pathobiology of AT mucositis is complex and the exact mechanisms that underlie its development still need to be fully elucidated. Current opinion considers that there is a prominent interplay between all of the compartments of the mucosa involving, at a molecular level, the activation of transcription factors, particularly nuclear factor-kappaB, and the subsequent upregulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines and inflammatory mediators. The purpose of this review is to examine the literature relating to what is currently known about the pathobiology of AT mucositis, particularly with respect to the involvement of pro-inflammatory cytokines, as well as currently used animal models and the role of specific cytotoxic chemotherapy agents in the development of AT mucositis.

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