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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013, Article ID 258141, 4 pages
Review Article

The Role of Morphine in Animal Models of Human Cancer: Does Morphine Promote or Inhibit the Tumor Growth?

1Istituto Nazionale per lo Studio e la Cura dei Tumori, “Fondazione G. Pascale,” IRCCS, Via Mariano Semmola, 80131 Naples, Italy
2Istituto di Endocrinologia e Oncologia Sperimentale del Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Dipartimento di Biologia e Patologia Cellulare e Molecolare “L. Califano,” Università degli Studi di Napoli “Federico II,” Via Pansini 5, 80131 Napoli, Italy

Received 16 July 2013; Accepted 29 July 2013

Academic Editor: Monica Fedele

Copyright © 2013 Sabrina Bimonte et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Morphine, a highly potent analgesic agent, is widely used to relieve pain and suffering of patients with cancer. Additionally, it has been reported that morphine is important in the regulation of cancerous tissue. Morphine relieves pain by acting directly on the central nervous system, although its activities on peripheral tissues are responsible for many adverse side effects. For these reasons, it is very important also to understand the role of morphine in cancer treatment. The published literature reporting the effect of morphine on tumor growth presents some discrepancies, with reports suggesting that morphine may either promote or inhibit the tumor growth. It has been also demonstrated that morphine modulates angiogenesis which is important for primary tumour growth, invasiveness, and the development of metastasis. This review will focus on the latest findings on the role of morphine in the regulation of cancer cell growth and angiogenesis.