The IKK/NF-kappaB activation pathway-a target for prevention and treatment of cancer

Cancer Lett. 2004 Apr 8;206(2):193-9. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2003.08.029.


The importance of the IkappaB kinase (IKK)/NF-kappaB signaling pathway in immunoregulatory functions is well accepted. However, the relevance of IKK and NF-kappaB in tumor maintenance, tumor promotion and possibly even in tumor initiation is becoming more evident. Activation of the IKK/NF-kappaB signaling pathway leads to the induction of target genes that can interfere with apoptosis, cell cycle regulation, cell invasion and metastatic growth as well as radio- and chemotherapy. By possibly bridging inflammation and cancer NF-kappaB might also contribute to tumorigenesis. Several natural compounds and synthetic drugs that are able to inhibit the IKK/NF-kappaB activation pathway have been shown to either prevent cancer or to inhibit cell growth in animal models. However, these compounds do not selectively inhibit any of the NF-kappaB activation pathways. Furthermore, general inhibition of NF-kappaB might lead to immunodeficiency. The investigation of the different NF-kappaB signaling pathways in different cell types and their role in certain diseases is therefore needed to evaluate the most successful therapeutic strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis
  • Humans
  • I-kappa B Kinase
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • NF-kappa B
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • CHUK protein, human
  • I-kappa B Kinase
  • IKBKB protein, human
  • IKBKE protein, human