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J Cell Mol Med. 2012 Apr;16(4):920-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1582-4934.2011.01375.x.

Role of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) in chronic stress-promoted tumour growth.

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Animal Facility, National Institute of Tumours G. Pascale, Naples, Italy.


Accumulating evidence suggests that chronic stress can be a cofactor for the initiation and progression of cancer. Here we evaluated the role of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) in stress-promoted tumour growth of murine B16F10 melanoma cell line in C57BL/6 mice. Animals subjected to restraint stress showed increased levels adrenocorticotropic hormone, enlarged adrenal glands, reduced thymus weight and a 3.61-fold increase in tumour growth in respect to no-stressed animals. Tumour growth was significantly reduced in mice treated with the β-antagonist propranolol. Tumour samples obtained from stressed mice displayed high levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) protein in immunohistochemistry. Because VEGF can induce eNOS increase, and nitric oxide is a relevant factor in angiogenesis, we assessed the levels of eNOS protein by Western blot analysis. We found a significant increase in eNOS levels in tumour samples from stressed mice, indicating an involvement of this enzyme in stress-induced tumour growth. Accordingly, chronic stress did not promote tumour growth in eNOS(-/-) mice. These results disclose for the first time a pivotal role for eNOS in chronic stress-induced initiation and promotion of tumour growth.

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