The role of CXC chemokines and their receptors in cancer

Cancer Lett. 2008 Aug 28;267(2):226-44. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2008.04.050. Epub 2008 Jun 24.


Chemokines, or chemotactic cytokines, and their receptors have been discovered as essential and selective mediators in leukocyte migration to inflammatory sites and to secondary lymphoid organs. Besides their functions in the immune system, they also play a critical role in tumor initiation, promotion and progression. There are four subgroups of chemokines: CXC, CC, CX(3)C, and C chemokine ligands. The CXC or alpha subgroup is further subdivided in the ELR(+) and ELR(-) chemokines. Members that contain the ELR motif bind to CXC chemokine receptor 2 (CXCR2) and are angiogenic. In contrast, most of the CXC chemokines without ELR motif bind to CXCR3 and are angiostatic. An exception is the angiogenic ELR(-)CXC chemokine stromal cell-derived factor-1 (CXCL12/SDF-1), which binds to CXCR4 and CXCR7 and is implicated in tumor metastasis. This review is focusing on the role of CXC chemokines and their receptors in tumorigenesis, including angiogenesis, attraction of leukocytes to tumor sites and induction of tumor cell migration and homing in metastatic sites. Finally, their therapeutic use in cancer treatment is discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Animals
  • Chemokines, CXC / genetics
  • Chemokines, CXC / metabolism
  • Chemokines, CXC / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Receptors, CXCR / genetics
  • Receptors, CXCR / metabolism
  • Receptors, CXCR / physiology*


  • Chemokines, CXC
  • Receptors, CXCR