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BACKGROUND: CXCL12 (SDF1) is reported to promote cancer progression in several preclinical models and this is corroborated by the analysis of human tissue specimens. However, the relationship between CXCL12 expression and cancer survival has not been systematically assessed. METHODS: We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies that evaluated the association between CXCL12 expression and cancer survival. RESULTS: Thirty-eight studies inclusive of 5807 patients were included in the analysis of overall, recurrence-free or cancer-specific survival, the majority of which were retrospective. The pooled hazard ratios (HRs) for overall and recurrence-free survival in patients with high CXCL12 expression were 1.39 (95% CI: 1.17-1.65, P=0.0002) and 1.12 (95% CI: 0.82-1.53, P=0.48) respectively, but with significant heterogeneity between studies. On subgroup analysis by cancer type, high CXCL12 expression was associated with reduced overall survival in patients with oesophagogastric (HR 2.08; 95% CI: 1.31-3.33, P=0.002), pancreatic (HR 1.54; 95% CI: 1.21-1.97, P=0.0005) and lung cancer (HR 1.37; 95% CI: 1.08-1.75, P=0.01), whereas in breast cancer patients high CXCL12 expression conferred an overall survival advantage (HR 0.5; 95% CI: 0.38-0.66, P<0.00001). CONCLUSIONS: Determination of CXCL12 expression has the potential to be of use as a cancer biomarker and adds prognostic information in various cancer types. Prospective or prospective-retrospective analyses of CXCL12 expression in clearly defined cancer cohorts are now required to advance our understanding of the relationship between CXCL12 expression and cancer outcome.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Cancer

Publication Date





124 - 135


Antibodies, Monoclonal, Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized, Breast Neoplasms, Chemokine CXCL12, Colorectal Neoplasms, Disease-Free Survival, Esophageal Neoplasms, Female, Humans, Lung Neoplasms, Male, Neoplasms, Pancreatic Neoplasms, Prognosis, Prostatic Neoplasms, Stomach Neoplasms, Survival Rate