The tumor microenvironment is innervated by sensory, sympathetic, and parasympathetic nerves that actively stimulate cancer growth and dissemination. The cross-talk among the peripheral nerves, cancer cells, and stromal cells is mediated by a diverse set of bioactive ligands and their corresponding receptors. Dissecting the specific neuronal subtypes and molecular signals that drive cancer–nerve interaction holds the hope of developing targeted therapies for cancer. A recent study by Restaino and colleagues demonstrated that regardless of tumor type, origin, or anatomic location, tumors are densely innervated, predominantly by transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily V member 1 positive (TRPV1þ) sensory fibers. The intratumoral fibers likely have functional connectivity and contribute to increased electrical activity in the tumor bed. Importantly, the neuropeptide substance P produced by intratumoral fibers stimulates its neurokinin 1 receptor (NK1R) expressed on tumor cells to drive tumor proliferation and migration. The findings raised the intriguing possibility of a generalizable molecular pathway that mediates cancer–nerve interaction that can be targeted to inhibit tumor growth and metastasis across different tumor types.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research