A dynamic inflammatory cytokine network in the human ovarian cancer microenvironment

Cancer Res. 2012 Jan 1;72(1):66-75. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-11-2178. Epub 2011 Nov 7.


Constitutive production of inflammatory cytokines is a characteristic of many human malignant cell lines; however, the in vitro and in vivo interdependence of these cytokines, and their significance to the human cancer microenvironment, are both poorly understood. Here, we describe for the first time how three key cytokine/chemokine mediators of cancer-related inflammation, TNF, CXCL12, and interleukin 6, are involved in an autocrine cytokine network, the "TNF network," in human ovarian cancer. We show that this network has paracrine actions on angiogenesis, infiltration of myeloid cells, and NOTCH signaling in both murine xenografts and human ovarian tumor biopsies. Neutralizing antibodies or siRNA to individual members of this TNF network reduced angiogenesis, myeloid cell infiltration, and experimental peritoneal ovarian tumor growth. The dependency of network genes on TNF was shown by their downregulation in tumor cells from patients with advanced ovarian cancer following the infusion of anti-TNF antibodies. Together, the findings define a network of inflammatory cytokine interactions that are crucial to tumor growth and validate this network as a key therapeutic target in ovarian cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biopsy
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Cytokines