Research Highlight

Dopamine to repair blood vessels

doi:10.1038/nindia.2011.178 Published online 9 December 2011

The researchers: (L to R) Debanjan Chakroborty, Sujit Basu (sitting), Chandrani Sarkar & Partha Sarathi Dasgupta (inset).

Researchers have shown that the neurotransmitter dopamine (DA) can repair defective blood vessels surrounding cancer cells and help improve the efficacy of chemotherapy. DA helps 'stabilise' leaky blood vessels around tumour tissues thereby significantly increasing the concentration of anticancer drug in these tissues.

In colon and prostate tumour tissue of experimental mice, the researchers observed a connection between abnormal blood vessels, the loss of sympathetic nerve supply to these vessels and subsequent depletion of DA. When they treated these damaged vessels with a nontoxic dose of DA, the structural defects in the vessels got corrected. This led to increased blood flow into the tissues.

As a result, the concentration and efficacy of the anticancer drug 5-FU was increased considerably in DA-treated tumour tissues, they reported.

"The results show a relationship between stabilisation of damaged blood vessels and the neurotransmitter. DA can be an inexpensive option for the treatment of cancer and disorders such as Parkinson's Disease that warrant normalisation of blood vessels," says lead researcher Sujit Basu.


  1. Chakroborty, D. et al. Dopamine stabilizes tumour blood vessels by up-regulating angiopoietin 1 expression in pericytes and Kr├╝ppel-like factor-2 expression in tumor endothelial cells. P. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1108696108 (2011)