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Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2008;40(8):1443-51. doi: 10.1016/j.biocel.2008.01.022. Epub 2008 Feb 1.

The endothelin axis in cancer.

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Molecular Pathology and Ultrastructure, Regina Elena Cancer Institute, Via delle Messi d'Oro 156, 00158 Rome, Italy.


The endothelin axis, comprising endothelins and their receptors, has recently emerged as relevant player in tumor growth and metastasis by regulating mitogenesis, cell survival, angiogenesis, bone remodeling, stimulation of nociceptor receptor, tumor-infiltrating immune cells, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, invasion and metastatic dissemination. Endothelin-1 participates in the growth and progression of a variety of tumors such as prostatic, ovarian, renal, pulmonary, colorectal, cervical, breast, bladder, endometrial carcinomas, Kaposi's sarcoma, brain tumors, melanoma, and bone metastases. This review highlights key signaling pathways activated by endothelin-1 axis in cancer, since the understanding the full spectrum activated by endothelin-1 is critical for the optimal design of targeted therapies. Preliminary experimental and clinical data demonstrate that interfering with endothelin receptor by using endothelin-1 receptor antagonists alone and in combination with cytotoxic drugs or molecular inhibitors could represent a new mechanism-based antitumor strategy.

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