Cancer catecholamine conundrum

H Wackerhage, J F Christensen, M Ilmer, I von Luettichau, B W Renz, M Schönfelder


Exercise, psychosocial stress, and drugs such as adrenergic agonists and antagonists increase the concentrations of catecholamines and/or alter adrenergic signaling. Intriguingly, exercise studies universally suggest that catecholamines are cancer-inhibiting whereas cancer stress studies typically report the opposite, whereas β-blocker studies show variable effects. Here, we term variable effects of catecholamines in cancer the cancer catecholamine conundrum. Variable effects of catecholamines can potentially be explained by variable expression of nine adrenergic receptor isoforms and by other factors including catecholamine effects on cancer versus immune or endothelial cells. Future studies on catecholamines and cancer should seek to understand the mechanisms that explain variable effects of catecholamines in cancer to utilize beneficial or block detrimental effects of catecholamines in cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTrends in cancer
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)110-122
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists/pharmacology
  • Catecholamines/metabolism
  • Endothelial Cells
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms/drug therapy
  • Signal Transduction


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