Chemokines have emerged as important players in tumorigenic process. An extensive body of literature generated over the last two or three decades strongly implicate abnormally activated or functionally disrupted chemokine signaling in liaising most-if not all-hallmark processes of cancer. It is well-known that chemokine signaling networks within the tumor microenvironment are highly versatile and context-dependent: exert both pro-tumoral and antitumoral activities. The C-X-C motif chemokine ligand 13 (CXCL13), and its cognate receptor CXCR5, represents an emerging example of chemokine signaling axes, which express the ability to modulate tumor growth and progression in either way. Collateral evidence indicate that CXCL13-CXCR5 axis may directly modulate tumor growth by inducing proliferation of cancer cells, as well as promoting invasive phenotypes and preventing their apoptosis. In addition, CXCL13-CXCR5 axis may also indirectly modulate tumor growth by regulating noncancerous cells, particularly the immune cells, within the tumor microenvironment. Here, we review the role of CXCL13, together with CXCR5, in the human tumor microenvironment. We first elaborate their patterns of expression, regulation, and biological functions in normal physiology. We then consider how their aberrant activity, as a result of differential overexpression or co-expression, may directly or indirectly modulate the growth of tumors through effects on both cancerous and noncancerous cells.
© 2021. The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.