Nitric oxide and metastatic cell behaviour

Bioessays 27 (12):1228-1238 (2005)
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Nitric oxide (NO) is a pleiotropic signalling molecule that subserves a wide variety of basic cellular functions and also manifests itself pathophysiologically. As regards cancer and its progression, however, the reported role of NO appears surprisingly inconsistent. In this review, we focus on metastasis, the process of cancer cell spread and secondary tumour formation. In a ‘reductionist’ approach, we consider the metastatic cascade to be made up of a series of basic cellular behaviours (such as proliferation, apoptosis, adhesion, secretion migration, invasion and angiogenesis). We evaluate how NO controls such behaviours, in comparison with normal cells. The available information suggests strongly that NO signalling would be expected to regulate these behaviours both positively and negatively and this probably leads to the observed apparent variability in the NO status of cancer cells and tissues. Thus, the role of NO in cancer is more complex than previously thought. A number of suggestions are made, including consideration of novel mechanisms, such as ion channels, in order to achieve a more consistent and integrated understanding of NO signalling in cancer and to realise its clinical potential. BioEssays 27:1228–1238, 2005. © 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.



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Emma Williams
University of Texas Health Center at Tyler

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