Clinical Autonomic Research

, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 301–314 | Cite as

Autonomic nervous system and cancer

  • Marta Simó
  • Xavier Navarro
  • Victor J. Yuste
  • Jordi Bruna


The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is the main homeostatic regulatory system of the body. However, this widely distributed neural network can be easily affected by cancer and by the adverse events induced by cancer treatments. In this review, we have classified the ANS complications of cancer into two categories. The first includes direct cancer-related complications, such as primary ANS tumors (pheochromocytoma, paraganglioma or neuroblastoma), as well as autonomic manifestations induced by non-primary ANS tumors (primary brain tumors and metastases). The second comprises indirect ANS complications, which include autonomic features related to cancer therapy (chemotherapy, radiotherapy and/or surgery) and those not related to cancer therapy, such as paraneoplastic autonomic syndromes. We also review the molecular relationship and modulation between the ANS and the cancer cells and their microenvironment.


Autonomic nervous system Sympathetic Parasympathetic Cancer Neoplasm 



This work was partially supported by PI1501303 Grant from Instituto de Salud Carlos III and Fondo Europeo de Desarrollo Regional.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The manuscript does not contain information about not previously published clinical studies or original patient data. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Neuro-Oncology Unit, Hospital Universitari de Bellvitge–Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO) l’HospitaletBellvitge Institute for Biomedical Research (IDIBELL)L’Hospitalet de LlobregatSpain
  2. 2.Cognition and Brain Plasticity GroupIDIBELLL’Hospitalet de LlobregatSpain
  3. 3.Department of Cell Biology, Physiology and Immunology, Institute of Neurosciences, Faculty of MedicineUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBellaterraSpain
  4. 4.Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red sobre Enfermedades Neurodegenerativas (CIBERNED)BellaterraSpain
  5. 5.Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Institute of Neurosciences, Faculty of MedicineUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBellaterraSpain

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