SASP: Tumor Suppressor or Promoter? Yes!

Trends Cancer. 2016 Nov;2(11):676-687. doi: 10.1016/j.trecan.2016.10.001. Epub 2016 Oct 24.


Cellular senescence is a permanent growth arrest in cells with damage or stress that could lead to transformation. Some tumor cells also undergo senescence in response to chemotherapy. Senescent cells secrete cytokines and other factors of the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) that contribute to tumor suppression by enforcing arrest and recruiting immune cells that remove these damaged or oncogene-expressing cells from organisms. However, some cells can develop a SASP comprising factors that are immunosuppressive and protumorigenic by paracrine mechanisms. Likewise, the SASP in treated cancers can either contribute to durable responses or drive relapse. Here, we discuss the studies that have demonstrated a complex and often conflicting role for the SASP in tumorigenesis and treatment response.

Keywords: SASP; chemotherapy response; immune response; p53; senescence; tumor suppression.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinogenesis
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic*
  • Cellular Senescence*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Phenotype