Cancer Cells Expressing Toll-like Receptors and the Tumor Microenvironment

Cancer Microenviron. 2009 Sep;2 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):205-14. doi: 10.1007/s12307-009-0022-y. Epub 2009 Aug 15.


Toll-like receptors (TLRs) play a crucial role in the innate immune response and the subsequent induction of adaptive immune responses against microbial infection or tissue injury. Recent findings show that functional TLRs are expressed not only on immune cells but also on cancer cells. TLRs play an active role in carcinogenesis and tumor progression during chronic inflammation that involves the tumor microenvironment. Damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) derived from injured normal epithelial cells and necrotic cancer cells appear to be present at significant levels in the tumor microenvironment, and their stimulation of specific TLRs can foster chronic inflammation. This review discusses how carcinogenesis, cancer progression, and site-specific metastasis are related to interactions between cancer cells, immune cells, and DAMPs through TLR activation in the tumor microenvironment.