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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2012, Article ID 381434, 21 pages
Review Article

The Role of Neurokinin-1 Receptor in the Microenvironment of Inflammation and Cancer

1Research Laboratory on Neuropeptides, Hospital Infantil Universitario Virgen del Rocío, Avenida Manuel Siurot s/n, 41013 Seville, Spain
2Department of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Hospital Infantil Universitario Virgen del Rocío, Avenida Manuel Siurot s/n, 41013 Seville, Spain
3Department of Pediatric Surgery, Dr. von Hauner Children's Hospital, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Lindwurmstrasse 4, 80337 Munich, Germany

Received 29 October 2011; Accepted 20 November 2011

Academic Editors: D. A. Altomare and A. K. Kiemer

Copyright © 2012 Marisa Rosso 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.


The recent years have witnessed an exponential increase in cancer research, leading to a considerable investment in the field. However, with few exceptions, this effort has not yet translated into a better overall prognosis for patients with cancer, and the search for new drug targets continues. After binding to the specific neurokinin-1 (NK-1) receptor, the peptide substance P (SP), which is widely distributed in both the central and peripheral nervous systems, triggers a wide variety of functions. Antagonists against the NK-1 receptor are safe clinical drugs that are known to have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anxiolytic, antidepressant, and antiemetic effects. Recently, it has become apparent that SP can induce tumor cell proliferation, angiogenesis, and migration via the NK-1 receptor, and that the SP/NK-1 receptor complex is an integral part of the microenvironment of inflammation and cancer. Therefore, the use of NK-1 receptor antagonists as a novel and promising approach for treating patients with cancer is currently under intense investigation. In this paper, we evaluate the recent scientific developments regarding this receptor system, its role in the microenvironment of inflammation and cancer, and its potentials and pitfalls for the usage as part of modern anticancer strategies.