AAT Bioquest

β-adrenoceptors are upregulated in human melanoma and their activation releases pro-tumorigenic cytokines and metalloproteases in melanoma cell lines

One of the most aggressive forms of skin cancer known today is melanoma, and is being found increasingly in young adults. Additionally, despite a massive effort to try and find effective treatments, mortality rates for melanoma have not experienced a significant observed reduction. There is no current medical treatment for melanoma, with early-phase surgery being the only known mechanism for eradicating the disease. As such, significant attention is being paid to the pathology of the disease as well as the biological mechanisms that contribute to its onset and spread so that effective treatments can be developed in the future. One of the ways to try and do this is to take what is known about other types of cancers and see if some of the same knowledge can be applied to melanoma. For example, various studies have shown that β2-adrenoceptor (β2-AR) is present in various solid tumors, such as breast, colon, prostatic, ovary, nasopharyngeal and oral tumors. Additionally, some stress neurotransmitters, such as norepinephrine (NE) and epinephrine (E), have been found to regulate tumor cell invasion somewhat through the activation of β-AR. Some of these processes have been found in melanoma cell lines, but there is no detailed information regarding β-ARs expression in human cutaneous benign and malignant melanocytic lesions or catecholamine influence on melanoma cell migration.

Researching this potential connection was the focus of the study conducted by Moretti et al. from the University of Florence in Italy. By monitoring tumor development, specifically by looking at the matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) using the Amplite Universal Fluorimetric MMP Activity Assay Kit, Moretti and the research team were able to study the way NE, E, and β-AR interacted to affect the development of tumor cells. Since it is so difficult to monitor the activity of a single MMP enzyme, being able to accurately measure the activity of the entire matrix by using a tool such as that provided by the Amplite assay kit affords a reliable way to study tumor growth.

What the research team found is that there was a significant upregulation of β-ARs expression in melanoma in vivo and the activation of pro-tumorigenic biological responses induced by NE and E in vitro. This indicates that stress hormones such as NE and E can significantly stimulate the malignancy of melanoma cells, which offers a new path moving forward in the search for treatment that does not rely on early phase surgery. With the use of the Amplite Universal Fluorimetric MMP Activity Assay Kit, the research team was able to accurately and reliably study tumor cell activity, and the results they obtained could end up being one important piece in the puzzle that is finding a cure for melanoma. As incidence continues to hold steady, finding a way to treat melanoma more effectively than with surgery will dramatically affect the lives of a significant number of people. Studies like these are what propel the field forward and offer hope for disease eradication in the future.



  1. Moretti, S., et al. "β-adrenoceptors are upregulated in human melanoma and their activation releases pro-tumorigenic cytokines and metalloproteases in melanoma cell lines." Laboratory Investigation 93 (2013): 279-290.

Original created on November 27, 2019, last updated on November 27, 2019
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