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Inflammation and Liver Cancer

New Molecular Links


  • Work in the authors’ laboratory is supported by the agreement between FIMA and the “UTE project CIMA.” Red Temática de Investigación Cooperativa en Cáncer RD06 00200061, and CIBERehd (to JP) from Instituto de Salud Carlos III. Grants FIS PI040819, PI070392, PI070402 from Ministerio de Sanidad y Consumo. Fundación Mutua Madrileña. Grant Ortíz de Landazuri from Gobierno de Navarra. MJP, MUL, and JC were supported by a fellowship, a Juan de la Cierva contract and a Torres Quevedo contract from Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia, respectively.

Address for correspondence: Dr. M.A. Avila or Prof. J. Prieto, Division of Hepatology and Gene Therapy. CIMA. Universidad de Navarra. Avda. Pio XII, N55. 31008 Pamplona, Spain. Voice: +34-948-194700; fax: +34-948-194717. or


A connection between inflammation and cancer has been long suspected. Epidemiological studies have established that many tumors occur in association with chronic infectious diseases, and it is also known that persistent inflammation in the absence of infections increases the risk and accelerates the development of cancer. One clear example of inflammation-related cancer is hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). HCC is a type tumor that slowly unfolds on a background of chronic inflammation mainly triggered by exposure to infectious agents (hepatotropic viruses) or to toxic compounds (ethanol). The molecular links that connect inflammation and cancer are not completely known, but evidences gathered over the past few years are beginning to define the precise mechanisms. In this article we review the most compelling evidences on the role of transcription factors such as NF-κB and STAT3, cytokines like IL-6 and IL-1α, ligands of the EGF receptor and other inflammatory mediators in cancer development, with special emphasis in HCC. The molecular dissection of the pathways connecting the inflammatory reaction and neoplasia will pave the way for better therapies to treat cancers.