Contradictory functions of NF-κB in liver physiology and cancer

Gilad W. Vainer, Eli Pikarsky, Yinon Ben-Neriah*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Rudolf Virchow (1821-1902), one of the founding fathers of modern pathology, hypothesized that cancer and inflammatory processes are linked, due to the presence of leukocytes in the tumor tissue. Today, chronic inflammation is believed to be one of the major causes for cancer development, accounting for nearly 20% of cancer cases worldwide. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the third leading cause of cancer mortality throughout the world, and its incidence is increasing in the United States. HCC is widely accepted to be the outcome of continuous injury and chronic inflammation, and thus provides a good model to gain insight into inflammatory related cancer processes. Nuclear Factor- kappa B (NF-κB) was first identified as an enhancer protein of the kappa light-chain gene in B lymphocytes. Later it was realized that there are five NF-κB transcription factors with important roles in inflammation, innate immunity, cancer and apoptosis aborting. Consequently, NF-κB was shown to link inflammation and cancer, but recent reports have revealed it to play a much more complex role, where in some disease processes it promotes cancer and in others it impedes carcinogenesis. In this review, we will focus on the seemingly contradictory role of NF-κB in liver homeostasis, as well as in liver cancer.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)182-188
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - 28 Aug 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Ms. Toby Reinhertz for excellent editorial assistance. Work in the laboratories of Eli Pikarsky and Yinon Ben-Neriah is supported by grants from the Israel Science Foundation the Israel Cancer Research Foundation and the Adelson Medical Research Foundation.


  • Cancer
  • HCC
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Inflammation
  • Liver
  • NF-κB


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