Published online Aug 24, 2019. doi: 10.5306/wjco.v10.i8.279
Peer-review started: April 30, 2019
First decision: August 2, 2019
Revised: August 12, 2019
Accepted: August 13, 2019
Article in press: August 14, 2019
Published online: August 24, 2019
Emerging data indicate that the nervous system plays an important role in carcinogenesis. However, more studies are required to help further elucidate the mechanisms involved in the neural regulation of carcinogenesis. Some recent findings describing the neural regulatory mechanisms of action in prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer and hepatocellular carcinoma are discussed, with a focus on the sympathetic, parasympathetic, and sensory neuronal elements of the nervous system. Norepinephrine, which is released by the sympathetic nervous system and binds to the beta-adrenergic receptor, regulates cellular responses in both normal and tumor cells. It has also been shown that the destruction of sensory neurons can prevent or at least slow pancreatic cancer. Cortisol, the main stress hormone, is also discussed and how it could potentially be involved in hepatocellular carcinoma development. The importance of studying other signaling molecules in the nervous system, such as oxytocin and its receptor, the oxytocin receptor, and how they might be involved in carcinogenesis when aberrantly expressed is highlighted. This is an area of study which clearly needs further investigation. A clearer understanding of the detailed mechanisms of how the nervous system is involved in carcinogenesis could potentially aid in the identification of novel biomarkers and development of novel preventative and therapeutic strategies in various cancers.
Core tip: Increasing evidence points to the importance of neural regulatory mechanisms in carcinogenesis. However, these mechanisms are not fully understood. A better understanding of these mechanisms could lead to prevention, early detection, and novel therapeutic strategies in various cancers. Consequently, this area of study warrants further investigation.