The role of toll-like receptor 4 in tumor microenvironment

Jing Li, Fan Yang, Feng Wei and Xiubao Ren _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:66656-66667. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.19105

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Jing Li1,2,3,4,5, Fan Yang2,3,4,5,6, Feng Wei1,3,4,5,6 and Xiubao Ren1,2,3,4,5,6

1Department of Immunology, Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital, Tianjin, China

2Department of Biotherapy, Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital, Tianjin, China

3National Clinical Research Center for Cancer, Tianjin, China

4Key Laboratory of Cancer Prevention and Therapy, Tianjin, China

5Tianjin’s Clinical Research Center for Cancer, Tianjin, China

6Key Laboratory of Cancer Immunology and Biotherapy, Tianjin, China

Correspondence to:

Xiubao Ren, email: [email protected], [email protected]

Keywords: TLR4, immune cells, tumor cells, tumor microenvironment

Received: November 24, 2016     Accepted: June 27, 2017     Published: July 08, 2017


Tumors are closely related to chronic inflammation, during which there are various changes in inflammatory sites, such as immune cells infiltration, pro-inflammation cytokines production, and interaction between immune cells and tissue cells. Besides, substances, released from both tissue cells attacked by exogenous etiologies, also act on local cells. These changes induce a dynamic and complex microenvironment favorable for tumor growth, invasion, and metastasis. The toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) is the first identified member of the toll-like receptor family that can recognize pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) and damage-associated molecular pattern (DAMPs). TLR4 expresses not only on immune cells but also on tumor cells. Accumulating evidences demonstrated that the activation of TLR4 in tumor microenvironment can not only boost the anti-tumor immunity but also give rise to immune surveillance and tumor progression. This review will summarize the expression and function of TLR4 on dendritic cells (DCs), tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs), T cells, myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs), tumor cells as well as stromal cells in tumor microenvironment. Validation of the multiple role of TLR4 in tumors could primarily pave the road for the development of anti-tumor immunotherapy.

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