Inflammation, DAMPs, tumor development, and progression: A vicious circle orchestrated by redox signaling

Patrizia Castellani, Enrica Balza, Anna Rubartelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Significance: Increasing evidence indicates that cancer development and progression are promoted by the joint action of redox distress and inflammation, supporting the potential impact of therapies aimed at restoring the redox homeostasis and fighting inflammation. Recent Advances: Most of the literature of the last 40 years converges to the view that continuous oxidative stress and chronic inflammation sustain each other, leads to transformation of a normal cell to a neoplastic cell, and promotes tumor progression. Some recent findings, however, support an alternative model whereby the increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) is an attempt to defend more than a pathogenetic factor in cancer. Rather, tumor development and progression may be promoted by an excess of antioxidants, induced in both transformed cells and recruited inflammatory cells as an adaptive response to ROS. Critical Issues: Although the link among redox stress, chronic inflammation, and cancer is widely recognized, the underlying mechanisms are far to be understood. The redox unbalance of the microenvironment is likely to modulate the bioactivity of damage-associated molecular pattern molecules such as HMGB1, which are released by stressed tissues and play pleiotropic functions on tumor and inflammatory cells, but how this occur, and the relevant consequences, are still unclear. Future Directions: In vivo measurement of cell redox status is an important challenge for future investigations. The improvement of the methodologies for ROS and antioxidant detection will allow a better understanding of the redox-related events in the tumor microenvironment with tremendous application potential in the development of rational combination therapies for cancer treatment. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 20, 1086-1097.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1086-1097
Number of pages12
JournalAntioxidants and Redox Signaling
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Physiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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