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In preclinical studies serotonin stimulates and dopamine inhibits tumour growth and angiogenesis. Information regarding serotonin and dopamine receptor (5-HTR and DRD) expression in human cancers is limited. Therefore, we screened a large tumour set for receptor mRNA overexpression using functional genomic mRNA (FGmRNA) profiling, and we analysed protein expression and location of 5-HTR1B, 5-HTR2B, DRD1, and DRD2 with immunohistochemistry in different tumour types. With FGmRNA profiling 11,756 samples representing 43 tumour types were compared to 3,520 normal tissue samples to analyse receptor overexpression. 5-HTR2B overexpression was present in many tumour types, most frequently in uveal melanomas (56%). Receptor overexpression in rare cancers included 5-HTR1B in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (17%), DRD1 in ependymoma (30%) and synovial sarcoma (21%), and DRD2 in astrocytoma (13%). Immunohistochemistry demonstrated high 5-HTR2B protein expression on melanoma and gastro-intestinal stromal tumour cells and endothelial cells of colon, ovarian, breast, renal and pancreatic tumours. 5-HTR1B expression was predominantly low. High DRD2 protein expression on tumour cells was observed in 48% of pheochromocytomas, and DRD1 expression ranged from 14% in melanoma to 57% in renal cell carcinoma. In conclusion, 5-HTR1B, 5-HTR2B, DRD1, and DRD2 show mRNA overexpression in a broad spectrum of common and rare cancers. 5-HTR2B protein is frequently highly expressed in human cancers, especially on endothelial cells. These findings support further investigation of especially 5HTR2B as a potential treatment target.


Marloes A M Peters, Coby Meijer, Rudolf S N Fehrmann, Annemiek M E Walenkamp, Ido P Kema, Elisabeth G E de Vries, Harry Hollema, Sjoukje F Oosting. Serotonin and Dopamine Receptor Expression in Solid Tumours Including Rare Cancers. Pathology oncology research : POR. 2020 Jul;26(3):1539-1547

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PMID: 31478179

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