Inflammasome: Cancer's friend or foe?

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High serum concentrations of IL-1β and IL-18 are correlated to malignancies with low-rate survival from the time of diagnosis. The multimeric complex of the inflammasome is responsible for IL-1β/IL-18 synthesis/release. A number of endogenous (damage-associated molecular patterns) and exogenous (pathogen-associated molecular patterns) stimuli can provide signals for inflammasome activation in cancer. These stimuli can behave as tumor promoters via inducing chronic inflammation that, rather than providing a protective response to loss of tissue homeostasis, aberrantly facilitates tumor development. This view is contrasted in animal models of colon cancer in which the activation of some inflammasome complexes is associated with tumor protection. More studies are needed to understand the biology of the inflammasome in cancer and explore its therapeutic potential.

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