The interleukin-8 pathway in cancer

Clin Cancer Res. 2008 Nov 1;14(21):6735-41. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-07-4843.


Interleukin-8 (IL-8) is a proinflammatory CXC chemokine associated with the promotion of neutrophil chemotaxis and degranulation. This chemokine activates multiple intracellular signaling pathways downstream of two cell-surface, G protein-coupled receptors (CXCR1 and CXCR2). Increased expression of IL-8 and/or its receptors has been characterized in cancer cells, endothelial cells, infiltrating neutrophils, and tumor-associated macrophages, suggesting that IL-8 may function as a significant regulatory factor within the tumor microenvironment. The induction of IL-8 signaling activates multiple upstream signaling pathways that (a) impinge on gene expression via regulation of numerous transcription factor activities, (b) modulate the cellular proteome at the level of translation, and/or (c) effect the organization of the cell cytoskeleton through posttranslational regulation of regulatory proteins. As a consequence of the diversity of effectors and downstream targets, IL-8 signaling promotes angiogenic responses in endothelial cells, increases proliferation and survival of endothelial and cancer cells, and potentiates the migration of cancer cells, endothelial cells, and infiltrating neutrophils at the tumor site. Accordingly, IL-8 expression correlates with the angiogenesis, tumorigenicity, and metastasis of tumors in numerous xenograft and orthotopic in vivo models. Recently, IL-8 signaling has been implicated in regulating the transcriptional activity of the androgen receptor, underpinning the transition to an androgen-independent proliferation of prostate cancer cells. In addition, stress and drug-induced IL-8 signaling has been shown to confer chemotherapeutic resistance in cancer cells. Therefore, inhibiting the effects of IL-8 signaling may be a significant therapeutic intervention in targeting the tumor microenvironment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Chemokines, CXC / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-8 / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / drug therapy
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*


  • Chemokines, CXC
  • Interleukin-8