Neurotransmitter signaling: a new frontier in colorectal cancer biology and treatment

Oncogene. 2022 Oct;41(43):4769-4778. doi: 10.1038/s41388-022-02479-4. Epub 2022 Oct 1.


The brain-gut axis, a bidirectional network between the central and enteric nervous system, plays a critical role in modulating the gastrointestinal tract function and homeostasis. Recently, increasing evidence suggests that neuronal signaling molecules can promote gastrointestinal cancers, however, the mechanisms remain unclear. Aberrant expression of neurotransmitter signaling genes in colorectal cancer supports the role of neurotransmitters to stimulate tumor growth and metastatic spread by promoting cell proliferation, migration, invasion, and angiogenesis. In addition, neurotransmitters can interact with immune and endothelial cells in the tumor microenvironment to promote inflammation and tumor progression. As such, pharmacological targeting of neurotransmitter signaling represent a promising novel anticancer approach. Here, we present an overview of the current evidence supporting the role of neurotransmitters in colorectal cancer biology and treatment.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms*
  • Humans
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • Neurotransmitter Agents