Prognostic value of innate and adaptive immunity in colorectal cancer

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Colorectal cancer (CRC) remains one of the major public health problems throughout the world. Originally depicted as a multi-step dynamical disease, CRC develops slowly over several years and progresses through cytologically distinct benign and malignant states, from single crypt lesions through adenoma, to malignant carcinoma with the potential for invasion and metastasis. Moving from histological observations since a long time, it has been recognized that inflammation and immunity actively participate in the pathogenesis, surveillance and progression of CRC. The advent of immunohistochemical techniques and of animal models has improved our understanding of the immune dynamical system in CRC. It is well known that immune cells have variable behavior controlled by complex interactions in the tumor microenvironment. Advances in immunology and molecular biology have shown that CRC is immunogenic and that host immune responses influence survival. Several lines of evidence support the concept that tumor stromal cells, are not merely a scaffold, but rather they influence growth, survival, and invasiveness of cancer cells, dynamically contributing to the tumor microenvironment, together with immune cells. Different types of immune cells infiltrate CRC, comprising cells of both the innate and adaptive immune system. A relevant issue is to unravel the discrepancy between the inhibitory effects on cancer growth exerted by the local immune response and the promoting effects on cancer proliferation, invasion, and dissemination induced by some types of inflammatory cells. Here, we sought to discuss the role played by innate and adaptive immune system in the local progression and metastasis of CRC, and the prognostic information that we can currently understand and exploit.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-184
Number of pages11
JournalWorld Journal of Gastroenterology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Colorectal cancer
  • Immunity
  • Inflammation
  • Metastasis
  • Prognosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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