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J Exp Med. 2013 Aug 26;210(9):1653-6. doi: 10.1084/jem.20131335.

Subverting sterols: rerouting an oxysterol-signaling pathway to promote tumor growth.

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Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


Oxysterols are oxidized derivatives of cholesterol that are generated enzymatically or through autoxidation. Initially identified as important lipid signaling molecules in the context of atherosclerosis and inflammation, accumulated evidence indicates that these lipid-signaling molecules can have pleiotropic effects on the fate and function of the immune system. These effects range from the regulation of immune cell survival and proliferation to chemotaxis and antiviral immunity. New studies now indicate that tumor-derived oxysterols can serve to subvert the immune system by recruiting protumorigenic neutrophils into the tumor microenvironment. The consequence of this recruitment is the generation of proangiogenic factors and matrix metalloproteinase proteins that provide a tumor a significant growth and survival advantage. In combination with other recent studies, these data highlight the ongoing cross talk between sterol metabolism and the immune system, and they raise the intriguing possibility that targeting oxysterol pathways could serve as a novel therapeutic approach in the war on cancer.

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