Increasing evidence indicates that cancer-induced anxiety can promote tumor progression, but the underlying neural mechanisms are unclear. A new study shows that tumor-bearing mice exhibit anxiety-like behaviors and identifies a direct tumor–nerve crosstalk that controls anxiety-promoting tumor progression. The researchers used several mouse models of breast cancer and neuroscience approaches, including pharmacogenetic, optogenetic and chemogenetic approaches, to demonstrate the role of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) neurons in the central medial amygdala (CeM) in cancer-induced anxiety and tumor progression. Notably, ablation or inhibition of CeMCRH neurons and the CeMCRH – lateral paragigantocellular nucleus (LPGi) circuit markedly decreased anxiety-like behaviors and tumor growth, while activation of the CeMCRH – LPGi resulted in opposite effects. Alprazolam, an antianxiety drug, inhibited the activity of CeMCRH neurons, reduced cancer-induced anxiety and slowed the progression of cancer in mammary tumor–bearing mice, opening a new potential avenue for the treatment of breast cancer.
Original reference: Xiong, S.Y. et al. J. Clin. Invest. 133, e167725 (2023)
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