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Complex Roles of Inflammasomes in Carcinogenesis

Drexler, Stefan K. MD; Yazdi, Amir S. MD

doi: 10.1097/PPO.0000000000000004

The central role of chronic inflammation in the promotion of tumor growth is supported by a broad range of experimental and clinical evidence. However, the molecular mechanisms converting transient inflammatory tissue reactions into a tumor-promoting microenvironment remain largely elusive. Because inflammasomes have been shown to regulate the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin 1β (IL-1β) and IL-18, they have been implicated in the relationship between tumor genesis/progression and inflammation. For instance, many cancers have been directly linked to inflammasome-mediated sterile inflammation, where a blockade of IL-1β and IL-18 has been shown to inhibit tumor growth. On the other hand, inflammasome activation also has potent antitumorigenic effects, where malignant precursor cells are eliminated through pyroptotic cell death. Indeed, inflammasome activity can even increase the efficacy of certain chemotherapies. Here, we review the current understanding on the complex and sometimes contradictory role of inflammasomes in carcinogenesis.

From the *Department of Biochemistry, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland; and †Department of Dermatology, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany.

S.K.D. is supported by grant DR 817/2-1 of the German Research Society (DFG) and A.S.Y. by grant YA-182/2-1 of the German Research Society (DFG).

Reprints: Amir S. Yazdi, MD, University of Tübingen, Liebermeisterstr. 25, 72076 Tübingen, Germany. E-mail:

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