Objective: The opioid growth factor (OGF) and its receptor, OGFr, serve as a tonically active inhibitory axis regulating cell proliferation in normal cells and a variety of cancers, including human ovarian cancer. Blockade of OGF and OGFr with the nonselective opioid receptor antagonist naltrexone (NTX) upregulates expression of OGF and OGFr. Administration of a low dosage of NTX (LDN) blocks endogenous opioids from opioid receptors for a short period of time (4-6 h) each day, providing a window of 18-20 h for the upregulated opioids and receptors to interact. The present study investigated the repercussions of upregulating the OGF-OGFr axis by treatment with OGF or LDN on human ovarian tumorigenesis in vivo.
Methods: Female nude mice were transplanted intraperitoneally with SKOV-3 human ovarian cancer cells and treated on a daily basis with OGF (10 mg/kg), LDN (0.1 mg/kg), or an equivalent volume of vehicle (saline). Tumor burden, as well as DNA synthesis, apoptosis, and angiogenesis was assessed in tumor tissue following 40 days of treatment.
Results: OGF and LDN markedly reduced ovarian tumor burden (tumor nodule number and weight). The mechanism of action was targeted to an inhibition of tumor cell proliferation and angiogenesis; no changes in cell survival were noted.
Conclusions: This study shows that a native opioid pathway can suppress human ovarian cancer in a xenograft model, and provides novel non-toxic therapies for the treatment of this lethal neoplasia.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.