Role of chemokines in tumor growth

Cancer Lett. 2007 Oct 28;256(2):137-65. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2007.05.013. Epub 2007 Jul 12.


Chemokines play a paramount role in the tumor progression. Chronic inflammation promotes tumor formation. Both tumor cells and stromal cells elaborate chemokines and cytokines. These act either by autocrine or paracrine mechanisms to sustain tumor cell growth, induce angiogenesis and facilitate evasion of immune surveillance through immunoediting. The chemokine receptor CXCR2 and its ligands promote tumor angiogenesis and leukocyte infiltration into the tumor microenvironment. In harsh acidic and hypoxic microenvironmental conditions tumor cells up-regulate their expression of CXCR4, which equips them to migrate up a gradient of CXCL12 elaborated by carcinoma-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) to a normoxic microenvironment. The CXCL12-CXCR4 axis facilitates metastasis to distant organs and the CCL21-CCR7 chemokine ligand-receptor pair favors metastasis to lymph nodes. These two chemokine ligand-receptor systems are common key mediators of tumor cell metastasis for several malignancies and as such provide key targets for chemotherapy. In this paper, the role of specific chemokines/chemokine receptor interactions in tumor progression, growth and metastasis and the role of chemokine/chemokine receptor interactions in the stromal compartment as related to angiogenesis, metastasis, and immune response to the tumor are reviewed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Chemokines / metabolism*
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Endothelial Cells / pathology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Leukocytes / metabolism
  • Leukocytes / pathology
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasms / blood supply
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Chemokine / drug effects
  • Receptors, Chemokine / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction* / drug effects
  • Stromal Cells / metabolism
  • Stromal Cells / pathology


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Chemokines
  • Receptors, Chemokine