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Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2008 Feb;18(1):3-10. doi: 10.1016/j.gde.2008.01.003. Epub 2008 Mar 5.

Pathways connecting inflammation and cancer.

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Istituto Clinico Humanitas IRCCS, Via Manzoni 56, 20089 Rozzano, Milan, Italy.


Chronic and persistent inflammation contributes to cancer development and can predispose to carcinogenesis. Infection-driven inflammations are involved in the pathogenesis of approximately 15-20% of human tumors. However, even tumors that are not epidemiologically linked to pathogens are characterized by the presence of an inflammatory component in their microenvironment. Hallmarks of cancer-associated inflammation include the presence of infiltrating leukocytes, cytokines, chemokines, growth factors, lipid messengers, and matrix-degrading enzymes. Schematically, two interrelated pathways link inflammation and cancer: (1) genetic events leading to neoplastic transformation promote the construction of an inflammatory milieu; (2) tumor-infiltrating leukocytes, in particular macrophages, are prime regulators of cancer inflammation. Thus, an intrinsic pathway of inflammation (driven in tumor cells), as well as an extrinsic pathway (in tumor-infiltrating leukocytes) have been described and both contribute to tumor progression.

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