Tumor necrosis factor, cancer and anticancer therapy

Simone Mocellin, Carlo Riccardo Rossi, Pierluigi Pilati, Donato Nitti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) is being utilized as an antineoplastic agent for the treatment of patients with locally advanced solid tumors. However, its role in cancer therapy is debated. Although a large body of evidence supports TNF's antineoplastic activity, the cascade of molecular events underlying TNF-mediated tumor regression observed in vivo is still incompletely elucidated. Intriguingly, some pre-clinical findings suggest that TNF may promote cancer development and progression, which has led to propose anti-TNF therapy as a novel approach to malignancies. In the present work, we summarize the molecular biology of TNF with particular regard to its tumor-related properties, and review the experimental and clinical evidence currently available describing the complex and sometime conflicting relationship between this cytokine, cancer and antitumor therapy. Recent insights that might pave the way to further exploitation of the antineoplastic potential of TNF are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-53
Number of pages19
JournalCytokine and Growth Factor Reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2005


  • Antineoplastic agent
  • Antitumor therapy
  • Tumor necrosis factor (TNF)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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