Cytokine-mediated therapeutic resistance in breast cancer

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HighlightsCytokine activation is closely related to breast cancer therapeutic resistance.Several major cytokines contribute to resistance mainly via enhancing EMT.Exosome-mediated cytokine transfer is essential for intercellular communication.Therapeutic resistance leading to tumor relapse is a major challenge in breast cancer (BCa) treatment. Numerous factors involved in multiple mechanisms promote the development of tumor chemo/radio-resistance. Cytokines/chemokines are important inflammatory factors and highly related to tumorigenesis, metastasis and tumors responses to treatment. A large number of studies have demonstrated that the network of cytokines activates multiple cell signaling pathways to promote tumor cell survival, proliferation, invasion, and migration. Particularly in BCa, cytokines-enhanced the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) process plays a pivotal role in the progression of metastatic phenotypes and resistance to the traditional chemo/radio-therapy. Virtually, therapeutic resistance is not entirely determined by tumor cell intrinsic characteristics but also dependent upon synchronized effects by numerous of local microenvironmental factors. Emerging evidence highlighted that exosomes secreted from various types of cells promote intercellular communication by transferring bioactive molecules including miRNAs and cytokines, suggesting that exosomes are essential for sustentation of tumor progression and therapeutic resistance within the tumor microenvironment. In this review, we discuss the mechanisms by which cytokines promote therapeutic resistance of BCa and suggest a potential approach for improving BCa therapeutics by inhibition of exosome function.

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