PerspectiveCANCER BIOLOGY

Nerves switch on angiogenic metabolism

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Science  20 Oct 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6361, pp. 305-306
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaq0365

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Summary

Nerves release neurotransmitters to regulate most physiologic functions in the body. Recently, it has been recognized that nerves play dominant roles in organogenesis and tissue regeneration (1, 2). In addition, growing evidence suggests that cancer development in a variety of tissues is controlled by an assortment of nerve-mediated signals, including neurotransmitters and other molecules (35). The key molecules depend on the organ and the context, but the targets of neurotransmission appear to include both stem cells and the surrounding stromal cells. Both adrenergic and cholinergic nerves promote prostate cancer development, at least in part, by activating stromal cells (4). On page 321 of this issue, Zahalka et al. (6) expand on their previous findings (3) by elucidating the molecular mechanism of neurotransmission in prostate cancer, revealing that noradrenaline released from cancer-associated nerves triggers angiogenesis and thus cancer progression.