Beta-endorphin neuron regulates stress response and innate immunity to prevent breast cancer growth and progression

Vitam Horm. 2013;93:263-76. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-416673-8.00011-3.


Body and mind interact extensively with each other to control health. Emerging evidence suggests that chronic neurobehavioral stress can promote various tumor growth and progression. The biological reaction to stress involves a chemical cascade initiated within the central nervous system and extends to the periphery, encompassing the immune, endocrine, and autonomic systems. Activation of sympathetic nervous system, such as what happens in the "fight or flight" response, downregulates tumor-suppressive genes, inhibits immune function, and promotes tumor growth. On the other hand, an optimistic attitude or psychological intervention helps cancer patients to survive longer via increase in β-endorphin neuronal suppression of stress hormone levels and sympathetic outflows and activation of parasympathetic control of tumor suppressor gene and innate immune cells to destroy and clear tumor cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / immunology
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Carcinogenesis
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / immunology
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / innervation
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / metabolism
  • Mammary Glands, Human / immunology
  • Mammary Glands, Human / innervation
  • Mammary Glands, Human / metabolism
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neurons / immunology
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Stress, Physiological*
  • Stress, Psychological / metabolism*
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology
  • Synaptic Transmission
  • beta-Endorphin / biosynthesis
  • beta-Endorphin / metabolism*


  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • beta-Endorphin