SARS-CoV-2 Vaccination and the Multi-Hit Hypothesis of Oncogenesis.

SARS-CoV-2 Vaccination and the Multi-Hit Hypothesis of Oncogenesis.

Publication date: Dec 01, 2023

Cancer is a complex and dynamic disease. The “hallmarks of cancer” were proposed by Hanahan and Weinberg (2000) as a group of biological competencies that human cells attain as they progress from normalcy to neoplastic transformation. These competencies include self-sufficiency in proliferative signaling, insensitivity to growth-suppressive signals and immune surveillance, the ability to evade cell death, enabling replicative immortality, reprogramming energy metabolism, inducing angiogenesis, and activating tissue invasion and metastasis. Underlying these competencies are genome instability, which expedites their acquisition, and inflammation, which fosters their function(s). Additionally, cancer exhibits another dimension of complexity: a heterogeneous repertoire of infiltrating and resident host cells, secreted factors, and extracellular matrix, known as the tumor microenvironment, that through a dynamic and reciprocal relationship with cancer cells supports immortality, local invasion, and metastatic dissemination. This staggering intricacy calls for caution when advising all people with cancer (or a previous history of cancer) to receive the COVID-19 primary vaccine series plus additional booster doses. Moreover, because these patients were not included in the pivotal clinical trials, considerable uncertainty remains regarding vaccine efficacy, safety, and the risk of interactions with anticancer therapies, which could reduce the value and innocuity of either medical treatment. After reviewing the available literature, we are particularly concerned that certain COVID-19 vaccines may generate a pro-tumorigenic milieu (i. e., a specific environment that could lead to neoplastic transformation) that predisposes some (stable) oncologic patients and survivors to cancer progression, recurrence, and/or metastasis. This hypothesis is based on biological plausibility and fulfillment of the multi-hit hypothesis of oncogenesis (i. e., induction of lymphopenia and inflammation, downregulation of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) expression, activation of oncogenic cascades, sequestration of tumor suppressor proteins, dysregulation of the RNA-G quadruplex-protein binding system, alteration of type I interferon responses, unsilencing of retrotransposable elements, etc. ) together with growing evidence and safety reports filed to Vaccine Adverse Effects Report System (VAERS) suggesting that some cancer patients experienced disease exacerbation or recurrence following COVID-19 vaccination. In light of the above and because some of these concerns (i. e., alteration of oncogenic pathways, promotion of inflammatory cascades, and dysregulation of the renin-angiotensin system) also apply to cancer patients infected with SARS-CoV-2, we encourage the scientific and medical community to urgently evaluate the impact of both COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccination on cancer biology and tumor registries, adjusting public health recommendations accordingly.

Concepts Keywords
Cancer cancer
Growingevidence covid-19
Host malignancy
Matrix metastasis
Vaccination oncogenesis
spike glycoprotein


Type Source Name
disease VO vaccination
disease MESH Oncogenesis
disease MESH Cancer
pathway REACTOME Metabolism
disease MESH metastasis
disease MESH genome instability
disease MESH inflammation
disease IDO host
disease IDO history
disease MESH COVID-19
disease VO vaccine
disease MESH uncertainty
disease VO vaccine efficacy
disease MESH lymphopenia
drug DRUGBANK Angiotensin II
disease VO report
disease MESH disease exacerbation
pathway KEGG Renin-angiotensin system
disease VO Glycoprotein

Original Article

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