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Papers of the Week

Papers: 2 Jan 2021 - 8 Jan 2021

Animal Studies

2020 Dec 30

Neurosci Lett

β-endorphin at the intersection of pain and cancer progression: Preclinical evidence.


Argueta DA, Aich A, Lei J, Kiven S, Nguyen A, Wang Y, Gu J, Zhao W, Gupta K
Neurosci Lett. 2020 Dec 30:135601.
PMID: 33387660.


We examined the association between endogenous opioid β-endorphin, cancer progression and pain in a transgenic mouse model of breast cancer, with a rat C3(1) simian virus 40 large tumor antigen fusion gene (C3TAg). C3TAg mice develop ductal epithelial atypia at 8 weeks, progression to intra-epithelial neoplasia at 12 weeks, and invasive carcinoma with palpable tumors at 16 weeks. Consistent with invasive carcinoma at 4 months of age, C3TAg mice demonstrate a significant increase in hyperalgesia compared to younger C3TAg or control FVBN mice without tumors. Our data show that the growing tumor contributes to circulating β-endorphin. As an endogenous ligand of mu opioid receptor, β-endorphin has analgesic activity. Paradoxically, we observed an increase in pain in transgenic breast cancer mice with significantly high circulating and tumor-associated β-endorphin. Increased circulating β-endorphin correlates with increasing tumor burden. β-endorphin induced the activation of mitogenic and survival-promoting signaling pathways, MAPK/ERK 1/2, STAT3 and Akt, observed by us in human MDA-MB-231 cells suggesting a role for β-endorphin in breast cancer progression and associated pain.