In the 19th century, Rudolf Virchow observed the presence of leukocytes within tumor tissues. This observation made the first possible link between inflammation and cancer. Over the past two decades our understanding of inflammation and cancer has supported Virchow’s observations (1).
Up to 15 % of global cancers have been associated to infections, furthermore there is strong evidence that chronic inflammation, and autoimmune reactions can increase the risk of cancer (2). Inflammation can act as initiator of cancer, since local inflammation enriches tissue in oxygen, nitrogen and free radicals that kill pathogens, and can directly cause DNA damage, and DNA mutations (3).
The immune system has the capacity to mediate repair of damaged tissues, by releasing cytokines, chemokines and growth factors, these agents can directly or indirectly stimulate tumor cell proliferation (4). Inflammatory cells appear also to have a crucial role in vessel formation, and they may provide tumors with required components, and play an important role in metastasis (3).
However, the inflammatory process can also contribute to the elimination of tumor cells. Tumor cells produce antigens that can be recognized by either specific immunity, or by innate immunity via natural killer (NK) cells (5).
These statements explain the extraordinary importance of inflammation and how it can act as a double-edged sword: under specific stimulation they can produce factors and free radicals able to directly destroy tumor cells. However, it appears that some tumors can use the inflammatory responses for their own benefit to grow and move throughout the body.
Aim and Methods
It is clear that we need to raise our knowledge about inflammation...
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...e production procedures do not survive, and only a small proportion can survive, a large numbers of animals therefore required to produce transgenic mice (20).
Inflammation is a multi-factorial player in the development of cancer. Inflammatory process can initiate, promote or inhibit tumor progression. In vitro studies cannot give a whole image about the involvement of inflammation in cancer, in contrast to in vivo tumor models which provide the basis for screening for new targets that may improve cancer therapeutic strategies. Although in vivo transgenic tumor models are widely used, but they have some cumbersome economical and ethical concerns. Furthermore, tumor bearing mice are not the best model to study the anti-tumor activity of immune system because the inflammatory infiltrate is by far less massive in mice tumors than in human ones (2).
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