, Volume 384, Issue 3, pp 221-230,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 29 Jul 2011

The role of morphine in regulation of cancer cell growth

Abstract

Morphine is considered the “gold standard” for relieving pain and is currently one of the most effective drugs available clinically for the management of severe pain associated with cancer. In addition to its use in the treatment of pain, morphine appears to be important in the regulation of neoplastic tissue. Although morphine acts directly on the central nervous system to relieve pain, its activities on peripheral tissues are responsible for many of the secondary complications. Therefore, understanding the impact, other than pain control, of morphine on cancer treatment is extremely important. The effect of morphine on tumor growth is still contradictory, as both growth-promoting and growth-inhibiting effects have been observed. Accumulating evidence suggests that morphine can affect proliferation and migration of tumor cells as well as angiogenesis. Various signaling pathways have been suggested to be involved in these extra-analgesic effects of morphine. Suppression of immune system by morphine is an additional complication. This review provides an update on the influence of morphine on the growth and migration potential of tumor cells.