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Curr Pharm Des. 2005;11(3):403-11.

Neurotransmitters and chemokines regulate tumor cell migration: potential for a new pharmacological approach to inhibit invasion and metastasis development.

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Institute of Immunology, Witten/Herdecke University, Stockumer Str. 10, 58448 Witten, Germany.


The migration of tumor cells is a prerequisite for tumor cell invasion and metastasis development, which accounts for over 90% of cancer mortality. Therefore a major focus of current tumor biological research is the study of those factors that regulate tumor cell migration. Those chemokines and neurotransmitters that bind to G-protein coupled receptors (also known as serpentine receptors) are the most prominent of these factors. Neurotransmitters have been identified that have not only a stimulatory (e.g. norepinephrine) effect, but an inhibitory effect (e.g. GABA) as well. This is an especially fortuitous development, because many known agonists and antagonists of neurotransmitter receptors are currently being successfully used in the treatment of other pathological conditions (e.g. beta-blockers in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases). Likewise, chemokine receptor antagonists, which are under development for the treatment of HIV or rheumatoid arthritis, may be effective tools for the inhibition of chemokine-driven tumor cell migration as well. A further approach to inhibit tumor cell migration arises from the investigation of the relevant signal transduction pathways. The PKC alpha, for example, is a key enzyme in the regulation of tumor cell migration, but not of leukocyte migration. It thus offers a selective target opportunity for specific pharmacological agents to interfere with tumor cell migration. In this review we therefore summarize the current findings on those serpentine receptors involved in the neurotransmitter- and chemokine-regulated tumor cell migration, on the underlying signal transduction pathways, and on the opportunities to inhibit tumor cell migration and ultimately metastasis development with pharmaceutical agents.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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