On the role of the peroxisome in cell differentiation and carcinogenesis

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This article reviews the currently available data on the role of peroxisomal function in relation to the processes of cell differentiation and carcinogenesis. In regard to tumourigenesis, both genotoxic and non-genotoxic processes have been considered, and the peroxisomal relationships with these phenomena and with differentiation are described at the level of organelle characteristics, enzyme contents, and the involvement of retinoids, steroid hormones, oxygen free radicals, growth factors, apoptosis, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and the cellular signalling networks. Overall these data serve to illustrate the unique and distinctive role of the peroxisome in differentiation and carcinogenesis, and point to the advantages of considering the peroxisomal involvement in the holistic context of the differentiation dedifferentiation continuum rather than the narrower focus of non-genotoxic carcinogenesis. The review also outlines the potential for medical benefit arising from a fuller understanding of these peroxisomal affiliations.

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