Several studies have shown that persistent infections and inflammation can favor carcinogenesis. At the same time, certain types of pathogens and antitumor immune responses can decrease the risk of tumorigenesis or lead to cancer regression. Infectious agents and their products can orchestrate a wide range of host immune responses, through which they may positively or negatively modulate cancer development and/or progression. The factors that direct this dichotomous influence of infection-mediated immunity on carcinogenesis are not well understood. Even though not universal, several previous reports have investigated the inverse link of pathogen-induced “benign” inflammation to carcinogenesis and various other pathologies, ranging from autoimmune diseases to allergy and cancer. Several models and ideas are discussed in this review, including the impact of decreased exposure to pathogens, as well as the influence of pathogen load, the timing of infection, and the type of instigated immune response on carcinogenesis. These phenomena should guide future investigations into identifying novel targets within the microbial and host proteome, which will assist in the development of cancer therapeutics and vaccine remedies, analogous to earlier efforts based on helminthic components for the prevention and/or treatment of several pathologies. Clin Cancer Res; 19(11); 1–8. ©2013 AACR.
- Received November 28, 2012.
- Revision received March 20, 2013.
- Accepted March 21, 2013.
- ©2013 American Association for Cancer Research.