Consumption of morphine can block the growth of blood vessel and tumour , according to a new research.
Using a clinically relevant morphine dose in a mouse model of Lewis lung carcinoma, researchers led by Dr. Sabita Roy of the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis, MN examined the effect of morphine use on new blood vessel growth in tumours.
They found that chronic morphine use decreased levels of tumour angiogenesis in a manner dependent on the opioid receptor.
This effect was mediated by suppression of signalling induced by low oxygen concentrations, leading to a reduction in the levels of pro-angiogenic factors.
Therefore, morphine may not only serve as an analgesic for cancer patients, but may also inhibit tumour angiogenesis and growth.
Koodie et al conclude that "morphine is a potential inhibitor of tumor growth, through the suppression of tumor cell-induced angiogenesis and hypoxia-induced p38 MAPK activation of HIF-1. In addition to its analgesic potential, morphine can be exploited for its anti-angiogenic potential in cancer pain management; these findings support the use of morphine for cancer pain management."
The related report by Koodie et al, "Morphine suppresses tumour angiogenesis through a HIF1a/p38MAPK pathway," appears in the August 2010 issue of the American Journal of Pathology.