TLR signaling by tumor and immune cells: a double-edged sword

B Huang, J Zhao, J C Unkeless, Z H Feng, H Xiong
Oncogene 2008 January 7, 27 (2): 218-24
The tumor cell signaling pathways that trigger the uncontrolled proliferation, resistance to apoptosis, metastasis and escape from immune surveillance are partially understood. Toll-like receptors (TLRs), which recognize a variety of pathogen-associated molecular patterns, are centrally involved in the initiation of the innate and adaptive immune responses. However, recent evidence shows that functional TLRs are also expressed on a wide variety of tumors suggesting that TLRs may play important roles in tumor biology. Activation of tumor cell TLRs not only promotes tumor cell proliferation and resistance to apoptosis, but also enhances tumor cell invasion and metastasis by regulating metalloproteinases and integrins. Moreover, the activation of TLR signaling in tumor cells induces the synthesis of proinflammatory factors and immunosuppressive molecules, which enhance the resistance of tumor cells to cytotoxic lymphocyte attack and lead to immune evasion. Thus, the neoplastic process may usurp TLR signaling pathways to advance cancer progression, which suggests that targeting tumor TLR signaling pathways may open novel therapeutic avenues.

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