Neurotransmitters are regulators for the migration of tumor cells and leukocytes

Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2002 Nov;51(9):467-82. doi: 10.1007/s00262-002-0300-8. Epub 2002 Jul 27.


Neurotransmitters are signal substances that have traditionally been regarded as mere mediators of signal states between cells in the nervous system. Whereas the mechanisms of this "classic" neurotransmitter regulation are well understood, only recently has new evidence come to light elucidating the modulatory role of neurotransmitters in immune function, and in the regulation of migration of leukocytes and tumor cells. The migration of leukocytes is, among other things, of primary importance for an anti-tumor immune response, whereas the migration of tumor cells is a prerequisite for invasion and the development of metastases. We here clarify and consolidate the latest tumor biological findings on the role of these neurotransmitters, which bind to serpentine receptors, and which are involved in leukocyte migration, tumor growth, invasion and metastasis. This review thus accentuates the complex, interactive involvement of neurotransmitters in the regulation of migration of both leukocytes and tumor cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Movement
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Kinins / metabolism
  • Leukocytes / metabolism*
  • Ligands
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism*
  • Peptides / chemistry
  • Time Factors


  • Kinins
  • Ligands
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Peptides