The substance P (SP)/neurokinin (NK)-1 receptor system plays an important role in cancer. SP promotes the proliferation of tumour cells, angiogenesis and the migration of tumour cells. We review the involvement of SP, the NK-1 receptor and NK-1 receptor antagonists in cancer. Tumour cells overexpress NK-1 receptors, which are involved in their viability. This overexpression suggests the possibility of specific treatment against tumour cells using NK-1 receptor antagonists, thus promoting a considerable decrease in the side effects of the treatment. This strategy opens up new approaches for cancer treatment, since these antagonists, after binding to their molecular target, induce the death of tumour cells by apoptosis, exert an antiangiogenic action and inhibit the migration of tumour cells. The use of NK-1 receptor antagonists such as aprepitant (used in clinical practice) as antitumour agents could be a promising innovation. The value of aprepitant as an antitumour agent could be determined faster than for less well-known compounds because many studies addressing its safety and characterization have already been completed. The NK-1 receptor may be a promising target in the treatment of cancer; NK-1 receptor antagonists could act as specific drugs against tumour cells; and these antagonists could be new candidate anti-cancer drugs.
Volume 45, 2020
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