Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark (FBL) is published by IMR Press from Volume 26 Issue 5 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on imrpress.com as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.
During carcinoma formation, cancer cells release various cytokines and growth factors into their surroundings and recruit and reprogram many other types of cells in order to establish a tumor microenvironment. Consequently, the tumor tissues almost always contain a large number of endothelial cells, fibroblasts, and infiltrating inflammatory cells that in turn produce a variety of cytokines. The cytokines produced by these cells have been posited as key factors in modulating immune response either against or in favor of tumorigenesis in the microenvironment. The interactions that take place between immune and cancer cells are complex, involving multiple cascades of cytokines, chemokines, and/or growth factors. In this review, we address the essential pro- and anti-tumorigenic roles of cytokines in the tumor microenvironment. As the interaction of cytokines, growth factors, and cancer cells forms a comprehensive network at the tumor site that is then responsible for the overall progression or rejection of the tumor, the current review links the microenvironment-derived cytokines and growth factors to a number of different kinds of human carcinogenesis models. Multifunctional cytokines, extracellular matrix mediators, and regulatory cytokines in the cancer environment are all shown to be key factors in the different cancer immune-editing systems. The characterization of cytokine networks in various types of cancer cells may yield important information for understanding the immune-related mechanisms of cancer development, and this knowledge may have subsequent application in cancer immunotherapy.