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Inflammation meets cancer, with NF-κB as the matchmaker

Abstract

Inflammation is a fundamental protective response that sometimes goes awry and becomes a major cofactor in the pathogenesis of many chronic human diseases, including cancer. Here we review the evolutionary relationship and opposing functions of the transcription factor NF-κB in inflammation and cancer. Although it seems to fulfill a distinctly tumor-promoting role in many types of cancer, NF-κB has a confounding role in certain tumors. Understanding the activity and function of NF-κB in the context of tumorigenesis is critical for its successful taming, an important challenge for modern cancer biology.

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Figure 1: Hypothetical model for the generation of colorectal tumors as a result of interplay among intestinal crypt microflora NF-κB activation, and mutatagenesis mechanisms in intestinal stem cell.
Figure 2: Pro- and anti-inflammatory functions of NF-κB and their relationship to tumorigenesis.
Figure 3: Pro- and anti-tumorigenic effects of NF-κB activation in cancer cells and their microenvironment.

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Acknowledgements

We thank E. Pikarsky, I. Alkalay-Snir and A. Pribluda for comments and discussions. Supported by the Israel Science Foundation, Israel Cancer Research Fund, the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America, the German-Israeli Foundation, Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Medical Research Foundation, the US National Institutes of Health and the American Cancer Society.

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Ben-Neriah, Y., Karin, M. Inflammation meets cancer, with NF-κB as the matchmaker. Nat Immunol 12, 715–723 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1038/ni.2060

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