Endothelin-1-induced pain and hyperalgesia : a review of pathophysiology, clinical manifestations and future therapeutic
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Neuropeptides. - Orlando, Fla
, p. 119-132
University of Antwerp
Pain in patients with metastatic cancer contributes to increased suffering in those already burdened by their advancing illness. The causes of this pain are unknown, but are likely to involve the action of tumour-associated mediators and their receptors. In recent years, several chemical mediators have increasingly come to the forefront in the pathophysiology of cancer pain. One such mediator, endothelin-1 (ET-1), is a peptide of 21 amino acids that was initially shown to be a potent vasoconstrictor. Extensive research has revealed that members of the ET family are indeed produced by several epithelial cancerous tumours, in which they act as autocrine and/or paracrine growth factors. Several preclinical and clinical studies of various malignancies have suggested that the ET axis may represent an interesting contributor to tumour progression. In addition, evidence is accumulating to suggest that ET-1 may contribute to pain states both in humans and in other animals. ET-1 both stimulates nociceptors and sensitises them to painful stimuli. Selective stimulation of ET receptors has been implicated as a cause of inflammatory, neuropathic and tumoural pain. ET-1-induced pain-related behaviour seems to be mediated either solely by one receptor type or via both endothelin-A receptors (ETAR) and endothelin-B receptors (ETBR). Whereas stimulation of ETAR on nociceptors always elicits a pain response, stimulation of ETBR may cause analgesia or elicit a pain response, depending on the conditions. The administration of ETAR antagonists in the receptive fields of these nociceptors has been shown to ameliorate pain-related behaviours in animals, as well as in some patients with advanced metastatic prostate cancer. The identification of tumour-associated mediators that might directly or indirectly cause pain in patients with metastatic disease, such as ET-1, should lead to improved, targeted analgesia for patients with advanced cancer. In this review, we will describe the current status of the role of ET-1 in different types of painful syndromes, with special emphasis on its role in the pathophysiology of cancer pain. Finally, potential new treatment options that are based on the role of the ET axis in the pathophysiology of cancer are elaborated.