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Peptides. 2012 Dec;38(2):318-25. doi: 10.1016/j.peptides.2012.09.024. Epub 2012 Sep 28.

The substance P/neurokinin-1 receptor system in lung cancer: focus on the antitumor action of neurokinin-1 receptor antagonists.

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Research Laboratory on Neuropeptides, Virgen del Rocío University Hospital, Sevilla, Spain.


The last decades have seen no significant progress in extending the survival of lung cancer patients and there is an urgent need to improve current therapies. The substance P (SP)/neurokinin-1 receptor (NK-1R) system plays an important role in the development of cancer: SP and NK-1R antagonists respectively induce cell proliferation and inhibition in human cancer cell lines. No study of the involvement of this system in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC) cells has been carried out in depth. Here, we demonstrate the involvement of the SP/NK-1R system in human H-69 (SCLC) and COR-L23 (NSCLC) cell lines: (1) they express isoforms of the NK-1R and mRNA for the NK-1R; (2) they overexpress the tachykinin 1 gene; (3) the NK-1R is involved in their viability; (4) SP induces their proliferation; (5) NK-1R antagonists (Aprepitant (Emend), L-733,060, L-732,138) inhibit the growth of both cell lines in a concentration-dependent manner; (6) the specific antitumor action of these antagonists against such cells occurs through the NK-1R; and (7) lung cancer cell death is due to apoptosis. We also demonstrate the presence of NK-1Rs and SP in all the human SCLC and NSCLC samples studied. Our findings indicate that the NK-1R may be a promising new target in the treatment of lung cancer and that NK-1R antagonists could be new candidate antitumor drugs in the treatment of SCLC and NSCLC.

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