Chemokines in colon cancer progression

Semin Cancer Biol. 2022 Nov;86(Pt 3):400-407. doi: 10.1016/j.semcancer.2022.02.007. Epub 2022 Feb 7.


Colon cancer is a major human cancer accounting for about a tenth of all cancer cases thus making it among the top three cancers in terms of incidence as well as mortality. Metastasis to distant organs, particularly to liver, is the primary reason for associated mortality. Chemokines, the chemo-attractants for various immune cells, have increasingly been reported to be involved in cancer initiation and progression, including in colon cancer. Here we discuss the available knowledge on the role of several chemokines, such as, CCL2, CCL3, CCL5, CXCL1, CXCL2, CXCL8 in colon cancer progression. CCL20 is one chemokine with emerging evidence for its role in influencing colon cancer tumor microenvironment through the documents effects on fibroblasts, macrophages and immune cells. We focus on CCL20 and its receptor CCR6 as promising factors that affect multiple levels of colon cancer progression. They interact with several cytokines and TLR receptors leading to increased aggressiveness, as supported by multitude of evidence from in vitro, in vivo studies as well as human patient samples. CCL20-CCR6 bring about their biological effects through regulation of several signaling pathways, including, ERK and NF-κB pathways, in addition to the epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Signaling involving CCL20-CCR6 has profound effect on colon cancer hepatic metastasis. Combined with elevated CCL20 levels in colon tumors and metastatic patients, the above information points to a need for further evaluation of chemokines as diagnostic and/or prognostic biomarkers.

Keywords: CCL20; CCR6; Chemokines; Colon cancer; Immune cells.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chemokines*
  • Colonic Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tumor Microenvironment / genetics


  • Chemokines
  • NF-kappa B