Dopamine and Serotonin Regulate Tumor Behavior by Affecting Angiogenesis

Drug Resist Updat. Oct-Dec 2014;17(4-6):96-104. doi: 10.1016/j.drup.2014.09.001. Epub 2014 Sep 22.


The biogenic amines dopamine and serotonin are neurotransmitters and hormones, which are mainly produced in the central nervous system and in the gastro-intestinal tract. They execute local and systemic functions such as intestinal motility and tissue repair. Dopamine and serotonin are primarily stored in and transported by platelets. This review focuses on the recently recognized role of dopamine and serotonin in the regulation of tumor behavior by affecting angiogenesis and tumor cell proliferation. Preclinical studies demonstrate that dopamine inhibits tumor growth via activation of dopamine receptor D2 on endothelial and tumor cells. Serotonin stimulates tumor growth via activation of serotonin receptor 2B on endothelial cells and serotonin receptors on tumor cells. Drugs that stimulate dopamine receptor D2 or inhibit serotonin receptors are available and therefore clinical intervention studies for cancer patients are within reach.

Keywords: Angiogenesis; Biogenic amines; Cancer; Dopamine; Serotonin.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Proliferation / physiology
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Endothelial Cells / pathology
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / blood supply*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / metabolism
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / pathology
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / metabolism
  • Receptors, Serotonin / metabolism
  • Serotonin / metabolism*


  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • Receptors, Serotonin
  • Serotonin
  • Dopamine