Inflammation and liver cancer: new molecular links

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009 Feb;1155:206-21. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.03704.x.


A connection between inflammation and cancer has been long suspected. Epidemiological studies have established that many tumors occur in association with chronic infectious diseases, and it is also known that persistent inflammation in the absence of infections increases the risk and accelerates the development of cancer. One clear example of inflammation-related cancer is hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). HCC is a type tumor that slowly unfolds on a background of chronic inflammation mainly triggered by exposure to infectious agents (hepatotropic viruses) or to toxic compounds (ethanol). The molecular links that connect inflammation and cancer are not completely known, but evidences gathered over the past few years are beginning to define the precise mechanisms. In this article we review the most compelling evidences on the role of transcription factors such as NF-kappaB and STAT3, cytokines like IL-6 and IL-1alpha, ligands of the EGF receptor and other inflammatory mediators in cancer development, with special emphasis in HCC. The molecular dissection of the pathways connecting the inflammatory reaction and neoplasia will pave the way for better therapies to treat cancers.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amphiregulin
  • Animals
  • EGF Family of Proteins
  • ErbB Receptors / metabolism
  • Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Hepatitis / complications*
  • Hepatitis / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications
  • Liver Cirrhosis / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms / complications*
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / metabolism
  • Toll-Like Receptors / metabolism


  • AREG protein, human
  • Amphiregulin
  • EGF Family of Proteins
  • Glycoproteins
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Interleukin-6
  • NF-kappa B
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • Toll-Like Receptors
  • ErbB Receptors