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Cancer Metastasis Rev. 1998 Mar;17(1):107-18.

Role of nitric oxide in tumour progression: lessons from human tumours.

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Glaxo Wellcome Research and Development, Stevenage, Herts, UK.


Varied cellular expression and localisation of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) isoforms has been shown in human cancers, including tumours of the breast, ovary, stomach, cervix and central nervous system. Mapping of NOS expression within tumour tissue from breast and gastric cancers shows inducible NOS (iNOS) is expressed predominantly in stromal (macrophage and endothelial) cells, although the level of NOS activity is at least 1-2 orders of magnitude lower than the enzyme activity associated with cytotoxicity and apoptosis. There is evidence that the intratumoural environment may provide chemoattractant signals for monocyte-macrophage recruitment and their subsequent activation via expression of interleukin-4, IgE, and CD23. Such signals lead to induction of iNOS in human macrophages in vitro. The correlation between NOS activity and grade for breast cancer suggests that NO may provide a positive growth signal within the tumour microenvironment. In vivo studies showing increased growth rate, vascular density and invasiveness of a human tumour cell line transfected to constitutively express iNOS support this. Furthermore, in vivo administration of a highly selective inhibitor of iNOS limited invasion and growth rate of iNOS transfected tumours and other murine tumours expressing this isoform. Inhibition of NO generation in the intratumoural microenvironment may prove a useful cancer therapy by preventing angiogenesis, invasion and metastasis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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