Hyperglycemia is the most prominent sign that characterizes diabetes. Hyperglycemia favors malignant cell growth by providing energy to cancer cells. Clinical studies also showed an increased risk of diabetes being associated with different types of cancers. In addition, poorly regulated glucose metabolism in diabetic patients is often found with increased levels of chronic inflammatory markers, e.g., interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, and emerging evidence has highlighted activation of the immune response in the progression and development of cancer cells. Therefore, uncontrolled proinflammatory responses could conceivably create a chronic inflammatory state, promoting a tumor-favorable microenvironment and potentially triggering immune overactivation and cancer growth. To further understand how hyperglycemia contributes to immune overactivation, the tumor microenvironment and the development of chronic inflammation-associated tumors may provide insights into tumor biology and immunology. This paper provides a brief introduction to hyperglycemia-associated diseases, followed by a comprehensive overview of the current findings of regulatory molecular mechanisms of glycosylation on proteoglycans in the extracellular matrix under hyperglycemic conditions. Then, the authors discuss the role of hyperglycemia in tumorigenesis (particularly in prostate, liver, colorectal, and pancreatic cancers), as well as the contribution of hyperglycemia to chronic inflammation. The authors end with a brief discussion on the future perspectives of hyperglycemia/tumorigenesis and potential applications of alternative/effective therapeutic strategies for hyperglycemia-associated cancers.
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