Opioids: Modulators of angiogenesis in wound healing and cancer

Martina Ondrovics, Andrea Hoelbl-Kovacic and Daniela Alexandra Fux _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:25783-25796. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.15419

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Martina Ondrovics1, Andrea Hoelbl-Kovacic1 and Daniela Alexandra Fux1

1 Department for Biomedical Sciences, Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Veterinaerplatz, Vienna, Austria

Correspondence to:

Daniela Alexandra Fux, email:

Keywords: opioids, angiogenesis, signaling mechanisms, tumor vascularization, wound healing

Received: December 01, 2016 Accepted: February 07, 2017 Published: February 16, 2017


Opioids are potent drugs that are widely used to control wound or cancer pain. Increasing evidence suggest that opioids mediate clinically relevant effects that go beyond their classical role as analgesics. Of note, opioids appear to modulate angiogenesis - a process that is critical in wound healing and cancer progression. In this review, we focus on pro- and anti-angiogenic facets of opioids that arise from the activation of individual opioid receptors and the usage of individual concentrations or application routes. We overview the still incompletely elucidated mechanisms of these angiogenic opioid actions. Moreover, we describe plausible opioids effects, which - although not primarily studied in the context of vessel formation - may be related to the opioid-driven processes of angiogenesis. Finally we discuss the use of opioids as an innovative therapeutic avenue for the treatment of chronic wounds and cancer.

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