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Vol 8, No 2 (2009)
Review articles
Published online: 2009-03-30
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Opioid therapy and tumor progression

Michael Schäfer, Shaaban A. Mousa
Advances in Palliative Medicine 2009;8(2):53-56.

open access

Vol 8, No 2 (2009)
Review articles
Published online: 2009-03-30

Abstract

It is well established that opioids help the organism to cope with environmental stress, tissue injury, pathogen invasion, inflammation, and tumor growth. Opioids elicit immunosupressive effects which may become benefitial in the context of chronic inflammation, however, it may be detremental in the context of tissue repair. These direct immunosuppressive effects of opioids would possibly facilitate tumor growth, however, in the context of pain and distress, which is known to promote tumor progression by a reduction in NK cell cytotoxicity, opioids clearly show a beneficial effect in reducing local tumor growth as well as dissemination of metastases. Recently, growing evidence accumulates that tumor cells express both opioid receptors and their ligands, the opioid peptides, suggesting that opioids may also directly affect tumor progression. Metenkephalin seems to play a most prominent role possibly acting via a different receptor than the classical opioid receptor. However, there is still great need for further studies to corroborate these interesting findings.

Abstract

It is well established that opioids help the organism to cope with environmental stress, tissue injury, pathogen invasion, inflammation, and tumor growth. Opioids elicit immunosupressive effects which may become benefitial in the context of chronic inflammation, however, it may be detremental in the context of tissue repair. These direct immunosuppressive effects of opioids would possibly facilitate tumor growth, however, in the context of pain and distress, which is known to promote tumor progression by a reduction in NK cell cytotoxicity, opioids clearly show a beneficial effect in reducing local tumor growth as well as dissemination of metastases. Recently, growing evidence accumulates that tumor cells express both opioid receptors and their ligands, the opioid peptides, suggesting that opioids may also directly affect tumor progression. Metenkephalin seems to play a most prominent role possibly acting via a different receptor than the classical opioid receptor. However, there is still great need for further studies to corroborate these interesting findings.
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Keywords

cancer pain; morphine; tumor proliferation; natural killer cells; opioids

About this article
Title

Opioid therapy and tumor progression

Journal

Advances in Palliative Medicine

Issue

Vol 8, No 2 (2009)

Pages

53-56

Published online

2009-03-30

Bibliographic record

Advances in Palliative Medicine 2009;8(2):53-56.

Keywords

cancer pain
morphine
tumor proliferation
natural killer cells
opioids

Authors

Michael Schäfer
Shaaban A. Mousa

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