Modulators affecting the immune dialogue between human immune and colon cancer cells

World J Gastrointest Oncol. 2014 May 15;6(5):129-38. doi: 10.4251/wjgo.v6.i5.129.


The link between chronic inflammation and colorectal cancer has been well established. The events proceeding along tumorigenesis are complicated and involve cells activated at the cancer microenvironment, tumor infiltrating polymorphonuclears, immune cells including lymphocyte subtypes and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), as well as tumor-associated macrophages. The immune cells generate inflammatory cytokines, several of them playing a crucial role in tumorigenesis. Additional factors, such as gene expression regulated by cytokines, assembling of tumor growth- and transforming factors, accelerated angiogenesis, delayed apoptosis, contribute all to initiation, development and migration of tumor cells. Oxygen radical species originating from the inflammatory area promote cell mutation and cancer proliferation. Tumor cells may over-express pro-inflammatory mediators that in turn activate immune cells for inflammatory cytokines production. Consequently, an immune dialogue emerges between immune and cancer cells orchestrated through a number of activated molecular pathways. Cytokines, encompassing migration inhibitory factor, transforming growth factor beta 1, tumor necrosis factor-α, Interleukin (IL)-6, IL-10, IL-12, IL-17, IL-23 have been reported to be involved in human cancer development. Some cytokines, namely IL-5, IL-6, IL-10, IL-22 and growth factors promote tumor development and metastasis, and inhibit apoptosis via activation of signal transducer activator transcription-3 transcription factor. Colon cancer environment comprises mesenchymal, endothelial and immune cells. Assessment of the interaction between components in the tumor environment and malignant cells requires a reconsideration of a few topics elucidating the role of chronic inflammation in carcinogenesis, the function of the immune cells expressed by inflammatory cytokine production, the immunomodulation of cancer cells and the existence of a cross-talk between immune and malignant cells leading to a balance in cytokine production. It is conceivable that the prevalence of anti-inflammatory cytokine production by PBMC in the affected colonic mucosa will contribute to the delay, or even to halt down malignant expansion. Targeting the interplay between immune and cancer cells by mediators capable to alter cytokine secretion toward increased anti-inflammatory cytokine release by PBMC and tumor associated macrophages, may serve as an additional strategy for treatment of malignant diseases. This review will focus on the inflammatory events preceding tumorigenesis in general, and on a number of modulators capable to affect colon cancer cell-induced production of inflammatory cytokines by PBMC through alteration of the immune cross-talk between PBMC and cancer cells.

Keywords: Colon cancer; Cross-talk; Cytokines; Immune dialogue; Peripheral blood mononuclear cells.

Publication types

  • Review