2004 Volume 204 Issue 1 Pages 1-9
Of the overt biological properties exhibited by malignant cells two appear to command particular attention; these are (1) the transmigratory ability which empowers these cells to invade surrounding tissues and results in their metastatic and destructive potential, and (2) their ability to evade detection by the immune system of the host. Both of these characteristics may well involve several disparate mechanisms. However, it may be that there are some metabolic features that are common to malignant neoplasms which could go some way to explaining one of these behavioural anomalies. It is proposed that abnormalities of oxidative metabolism of cancer cells, resulting in the generation of reactive oxygen species, are responsible for the inhibition of the functions of vicinal antigen-presenting cells and, thus, the failure of the immune system to recognize tumour-specific antigens likely to be expressed by malignant cells as part of their transmigratory capability.