Hormonal stimuli

Like Brothers in Arms: How Hormonal Stimuli and Changes in the Metabolism Signaling Cooperate, Leading HPV Infection to Drive the Onset of Cervical Cancer

Despite all precautionary actions and the possibility of using vaccinations to counteract infections caused by human papillomaviruses (HPVs), HPV-related cancers still account for approximately 5% of all carcinomas. Worldwide, many women are still excluded from adequate health care due to their social position and origin. Therefore, immense efforts in research and therapy are still required to counteract the challenges that this disease entails. The special thing about an HPV infection is that it is not only able to trick the immune system in a sophisticated way, but also, through genetic integration into the host genome, to use all the resources available to the host cells to complete the replication cycle of the virus without activating the alarm mechanisms of immune recognition and elimination. The mechanisms utilized by the virus are the metabolic, immune, and hormonal signaling pathways that it manipulates. Since the virus is dependent on replication enzymes of the host cells, it also intervenes in the cell cycle of the differentiating keratinocytes and shifts their terminal differentiation to the uppermost layers of the squamocolumnar transformation zone (TZ) of the cervix. The individual signaling pathways are closely related and equally important not only for the successful replication of the virus but also for the onset of cervical cancer. We will therefore analyze the effects of HPV infection on metabolic signaling, as well as changes in hormonal and immune signaling in the tumor and its microenvironment to understand how each level of signaling interacts to promote tumorigenesis of cervical cancer.

Keywords: cervical cancer; cytokines; estrogen; human papillomavirus (HPV); metabolism; microenvironment.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest.