The role of inflammation in colon cancer

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2014;816:25-52. doi: 10.1007/978-3-0348-0837-8_2.


Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in the world. CRC is responsible for more than 600,000 deaths annually and incidence rates are increasing in most of the developing countries. Epidemiological and laboratory investigations suggest that environmental factors such as western style dietary habits, tobacco-smoking, and lack of physical activities are considered as risks for CRC. Molecular pathobiology of CRC implicates pro-inflammatory conditions to promote the tumor malignant progression, invasion, and metastasis. It is well known that patients with inflammatory bowel disease are at higher risk of CRC. Many evidences exist reiterating the link between Inflammation and CRC. Inflammation involves interaction between various immune cells, inflammatory cells, chemokines, cytokines, and pro-inflammatory mediators, such as cyclooxygenase (COX) and lipoxygenase (LOX) pathways, which may lead to signaling towards, tumor cell proliferation, growth, and invasion. Thus, this review will focus on mechanisms by which pro-inflammatory mediators and reactive oxygen/nitrogen species play a role in promoting CRC. Based on these mechanisms, various preventive strategies, involving anti-inflammatory agents, such as COX inhibitors, COX-LOX inhibitors, iNOS inhibitors, natural supplements/agents, and synthetic agents, that blocks the inflammatory pathways and suppress CRC are discussed in this review.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Colonic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 / physiology
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiology
  • Inflammation Mediators / physiology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / complications*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / drug therapy
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Scavenger Receptors, Class E / physiology


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • OLR1 protein, human
  • Scavenger Receptors, Class E
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • PTGS2 protein, human