G-CSF in tumors: Aggressiveness, tumor microenvironment and immune cell regulation

Ioannis Karagiannidis, Eralda Salataj, Erika Said Abu Egal, Ellen J. Beswick

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) is a cytokine most well-known for maturation and mobilization of bone marrow neutrophils. Although it is used therapeutically to treat chemotherapy induced neutropenia, it is also highly expressed in some tumors. Case reports suggest that tumors expressing high levels of G-CSF are aggressive, more difficult to treat, and present with poor prognosis and high mortality rates. Research on this topic suggests that G-CSF has tumor-promoting effects on both tumor cells and the tumor microenvironment. G-CSF has a direct effect on tumor cells to promote tumor stem cell longevity and overall tumor cell proliferation and migration. Additionally, it may promote pro-tumorigenic immune cell phenotypes such as M2 macrophages, myeloid-derived suppressor cells, and regulatory T cells. Overall, the literature suggests a plethora of pro-tumorigenic activity that should be balanced with the therapeutic use. In this review, we present an overview of the multiple complex roles of G-CSF and G-CSFR in tumors and their microenvironment and discuss how clinical advances and strategies may open new therapeutic avenues.

Original languageEnglish
Article number155479
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • Colorectal cancer
  • G-CSF
  • G-CSF receptor
  • Immune cells
  • Tumor microenvironment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Hematology


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