Neurokinin-1 receptor expression and antagonism by the NK-1R antagonist maropitant in canine melanoma cell lines and primary tumour tissues

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We interrogated the neurokinin-1 receptor (NK-1R)/substance P (SP) pathway in canine melanoma tumour tissues and cell lines. NK-1R messenger RNA (mRNA) and protein expression were observed in the majority of tumour tissues. Immunohistochemical assessment of archived tissue sections revealed NK-1R immunoreactivity in 11 of 15 tumours, which may have diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic utility. However, we were unable to identify a preclinical in vitro cell line or in vivo xenograft model that recapitulates NK-1R mRNA and protein expression documented in primary tumours. While maropitant inhibited proliferation and enhanced apoptosis in cell lines, in the absence of documented NK-1R expression, this may represent off-target effects. Furthermore, maropitant failed to suppress tumour growth in a canine mouse xenograft model derived from a cell line expressing mRNA but not protein. While NK-1R represents a novel target, in the absence of preclinical models, in-species clinical trials will be necessary to investigate the therapeutic potential for antagonists such as maropitant.

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