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Modulation of human neuroblastoma transplanted into nude mice by endogenous opioid systems

Modulation of human neuroblastoma transplanted into nude mice by endogenous opioid systems
Publication Type
Journal Article
Research Type
Reported as
September 21, 1987
McLaughlin PJ, Zagon IS.
Pennsylvania State University

The role of endogenous opioid systems (endogenous opioids and opioid receptors) in human cancer was explored using an opioid antagonist paradigm and neuroblastoma cells (SK-N-MC) transplanted into nude mice. Mice inoculated with 2.5 X 10(6) neuroblastoma cells received daily injections of either 0.1 or 10 mg/kg Naltrexone (=0.1 and 10 NTX groups) which blocked the opioid receptor for 6-8 hr/day or the entire 24 hr/day, respectively, or sterile water. The latency for appearance of a measurable tumor (5 mm diameter) in the 0.1 NTX group was 27% longer than controls (11 days), and the first death in this group occurred 33% later than controls (day 27). Mice inoculated with tumor cells in the 10 NTX group had an acceleration (18%) in the latency of tumor appearance and, 2 weeks after cell inoculation, 70% of the mice in this group had tumors, in contrast to 10% of the controls. At the termination of the experiment (day 45), only 33% of the 10 NTX group were alive, in contrast to 90% of the controls. Receptor binding assays using DAGO, DADLE, or EKC revealed specific saturable binding only for DADLE and EKC. NTX administration resulted in a 148-186% increase in density for both binding sites, but no changes in binding affinity. Measures of opioid levels showed that tumor tissue levels of both beta-endorphin and methionine-enkephalin were elevated 2.5 to 6.5 fold from control values in both NTX groups, whereas plasma beta-endorphin was subnormal by 4 to 6 fold. These results indicate that endogenous opioid systems regulate human neuro-oncogenesis, with opioids being active inhibitors of growth. Opioid antagonists up-regulate receptors and increase tissue levels of endogenous opioids and, under conditions in which the opioid antagonist is short-acting (e.g., 0.1 NTX), can have an exaggerated antitumor effect during the interval when the antagonist is no longer present.