Chemical basis of inflammation-induced carcinogenesis

Arch Biochem Biophys. 2003 Sep 1;417(1):3-11. doi: 10.1016/s0003-9861(03)00283-2.


Chronic inflammation induced by biological, chemical, and physical factors has been associated with increased risk of human cancer at various sites. Inflammation activates a variety of inflammatory cells, which induce and activate several oxidant-generating enzymes such as NADPH oxidase, inducible nitric oxide synthase, myeloperoxidase, and eosinophil peroxidase. These enzymes produce high concentrations of diverse free radicals and oxidants including superoxide anion, nitric oxide, nitroxyl, nitrogen dioxide, hydrogen peroxide, hypochlorous acid, and hypobromous acid, which react with each other to generate other more potent reactive oxygen and nitrogen species such as peroxynitrite. These species can damage DNA, RNA, lipids, and proteins by nitration, oxidation, chlorination, and bromination reactions, leading to increased mutations and altered functions of enzymes and proteins (e.g., activation of oncogene products and/or inhibition of tumor-suppressor proteins) and thus contributing to the multistage carcinogenesis process. Appropriate treatment of inflammation should be explored further for chemoprevention of human cancers.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • DNA Damage
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / complications*
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Mutagens / metabolism*
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Reactive Nitrogen Species / metabolism
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism


  • Mutagens
  • Reactive Nitrogen Species
  • Reactive Oxygen Species