Lung cancer is the second most common malignancy. Unfortunately, despite advances in multimodality therapeutics for the disease, the overall five-year survival rate among newly diagnosed lung cancer patients remains in the range region of 15%. In addition, although immune checkpoint inhibitors are increasingly being incorporated into lung cancer treatment protocols, the proportion of patients that respond to these agents remains low and the duration of response is often short. Therefore, novel methodologies to enhance the efficacy of immunotherapy in lung cancer are highly desirable. Chemokines are small chemotactic cytokines that interact with their 7 transmembrane G-protein–coupled receptors, to guide immune cell trafficking in the body under both physiologic and pathologic conditions. Tumor cells highjack a small repertoire of the chemokine/chemokine receptor system and utilize it in a manner that benefits local tumor growth and distant spread. The chemokine receptor, CXCR4 is expressed in over 30 types of malignant tumors and, through interaction with its ligand CXCL12, was shown exert pleotropic pro-tumorigenic effects. In this review, the pathologic roles that CXCL12/CXCR4 play in lung cancer propagation are presented. Furthermore, the challenges and potential benefits of incorporating drugs that target CXCL12/CXCR4 into immune-based lung cancer therapeutic protocols are discussed.
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