NF-κB pathways in hematological malignancies

Chiara Gasparini, Claudio Celeghini, Lorenzo Monasta, Giorgio Zauli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The nuclear factor κB or NF-κB transcription factor family plays a key role in several cellular functions, i.e. inflammation, apoptosis, cell survival, proliferation, angiogenesis, and innate and acquired immunity. The constitutive activation of NF-κB is typical of most malignancies and plays a major role in tumorigenesis. In this review, we describe NF-κB and its two pathways: the canonical pathway (RelA/p50) and the non-canonical pathway (RelB/p50 or RelB/p52). We then consider the role of the NF-κB subunits in the development and functional activity of B cells, T cells, macrophages and dendritic cells, which are the targets of hematological malignancies. The relevance of the two pathways is described in normal B and T cells and in hematological malignancies, acute and chronic leukemias (ALL, AML, CLL, CML), B lymphomas (DLBCLs, Hodgkin's lymphoma), T lymphomas (ATLL, ALCL) and multiple myeloma. We describe the interaction of NF-κB with the apoptotic pathways induced by TRAIL and the transcription factor p53. Finally, we discuss therapeutic anti-tumoral approaches as mono-therapies or combination therapies aimed to block NF-κB activity and to induce apoptosis (PARAs and Nutlin-3).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2083-2102
Number of pages20
JournalCellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Hematologic neoplasms
  • NF-κB
  • p53
  • RelA
  • RelB
  • TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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