Is complement good or bad for cancer patients? A new perspective on an old dilemma

Trends Immunol. 2009 Jun;30(6):286-92. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2009 May 8.


Several studies of human cancers have established that chronic and insidious inflammation promotes the process of carcinogenesis and exacerbates the growth of existing tumors. Conversely, acute inflammation seems to have the opposite effect. Recent discoveries indicate that this dualism in the role of inflammation in cancer is mirrored by the effects of the complement system on this disease process. Previous studies have suggested that complement proteins can contribute to the immune surveillance of malignant tumors. However, a very recent study has indicated that complement proteins can also promote tumor growth. Here, we describe our current understanding of the role of complement in tumor development and progression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / pathology
  • Complement Inactivator Proteins / immunology*
  • Complement Inactivator Proteins / metabolism
  • Complement System Proteins / immunology*
  • Complement System Proteins / metabolism
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Surveillance
  • Inflammation
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Risk Factors
  • Tumor Escape


  • Complement Inactivator Proteins
  • Complement System Proteins