Inflamm-aging of the stem cell niche: Breast cancer as a paradigmatic example: Breakdown of the multi-shell cytokine network fuels cancer in aged people

Massimiliano Bonafè, Gianluca Storci, Claudio Franceschi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Inflamm-aging is a relatively new terminology used to describe the age-related increase in the systemic pro-inflammatory status of humans. Here, we represent inflamm-aging as a breakdown in the multi-shell cytokine network, in which stem cells and stromal fibroblasts (referred to as the stem cell niche) become pro-inflammatory cytokine over-expressing cells due to the accumulation of DNA damage. Inflamm-aging self-propagates owing to the capability of pro-inflammatory cytokines to ignite the DNA-damage response in other cells surrounding DNA-damaged cells. Macrophages, the major cellular player in inflamm-aging, amplify the phenomenon, by broadcasting pro-inflammatory signals at both local and systemic levels. On the basis of this, we propose that inflamm-aging is a major contributor to the increase in cancer incidence and progression in aged people. Breast cancer will be presented as a paradigmatic example for this relationship.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-49
Number of pages10
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012



  • Ageing
  • Cancer
  • DNA damage
  • Inflammation
  • Stem cell
  • Stem cell niche

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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