Naltrexone modulates tumor response in mice with neuroblastoma

Science. 1983 Aug 12;221(4611):671-3. doi: 10.1126/science.6867737.


Naltrexone, an opiate antagonist, had both stimulatory and inhibitory effects, depending on the dosage, on the growth of S20Y neuroblastoma in A/Jax mice. Daily injections of 0.1 milligram of naltrexone per kilogram of body weight, which blocked morphine-induced analgesia for 4 to 6 hours per day, resulted in a 33 percent tumor incidence, a 98 percent delay in the time before tumor appearance, and a 36 percent increase in survival time. Neuroblastoma-inoculated mice receiving 10 milligrams of naltrexone per kilogram, which blocked morphine-induced analgesia for 24 hours per day, had a 100 percent tumor incidence, a 27 percent reduction in the time before tumor appearance, and a 19 percent decrease in survival time. Inoculation of neuroblastoma cells in control subjects resulted in 100 percent tumor incidence within 29 days. These results show that naltrexone can modulate tumor response and suggest a role for the endorphin-opiate receptor system in neuro-oncogenic events.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Endorphins / physiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Naloxone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Naltrexone / therapeutic use*
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / drug therapy
  • Neuroblastoma / drug therapy*


  • Endorphins
  • Naloxone
  • Naltrexone