The diatomic radical nitric oxide has been the focus of numerous studies involved with every facet of cancer. It has been implicated in carcinogenesis, progression, invasion, metastasis, angiogenesis, escape from immune surveillance, and modulation of therapeutic response. In recent years, an increasing number of studies have suggested the possible involvement of nitric oxide in multiple cancer types, including melanoma. It is perhaps not surprising that conflicting viewpoints have arisen as to whether nitric oxide is beneficial or deleterious in cancer. However, it has become clear that nitric oxide possesses modulatory properties in a number of signal transduction pathways that depend on concentration and context. Our laboratory has shown that tumor expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase in melanoma patients results in poor survival. Furthermore, we demonstrated that the removal of endogenous nitric oxide in melanoma cell lines led to increased sensitivity to cisplatin-induced apoptosis in a p53-dependent manner. Others have shown antiapoptotic properties of NO in melanoma cells. However, several studies also suggest that NO can inhibit metastasis and diminish resistance. Despite the apparently conflicting observations, it is evident that NO is involved in melanoma pathology. The purpose of this review is to summarize the current literature relating to the role of NO in cancer with particular emphasis on its relevance to therapeutic resistance in melanoma. Recent evidence suggests the involvement of an intricate and complex interplay between reactive nitrogen species and reactive oxygen species. The importance of nitric oxide and its balance with other oxidative agents in the regulation of cancer cell response to therapies will be discussed. This balance may serve as an important focal point in determining patient response to therapy. The ability to control this balance could significantly influence outcome.
Keywords: nitric oxide, nos, cancer, drug resistance, prognostic markers, chemotherapy
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