J Cancer 2013; 4(8):671-678. doi:10.7150/jca.7118

Research Paper

Aspirin Blocks EGF-stimulated Cell Viability in a COX-1 Dependent Manner in Ovarian Cancer Cells

May Cho1, Syeda M. Kabir2, Yuanlin Dong2, Eunsook Lee3, Valerie Montgomery Rice4, Dineo Khabele5, Deok-Soo Son2✉

1. Department of Internal Medicine, Barnes-Jewish hospital, Saint Louis, MO 63110, USA.
2. Department of Biochemistry and Cancer Biology, Meharry Medical College, Nashville, TN 37208, USA.
3. Department of Physiology, Meharry Medical College, Nashville, TN 37208, USA.
4. Department of Medicine, Morehouse College of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30033-4097, USA.
5. Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN 37232, USA.

Abstract

Objective: Although aspirin has been associated with a reduction of the risk of cancer when used as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, its use to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer is controversial. Ovarian cancer cells usually express high levels of cyclooxygenase-1 (COX)-1. Because aspirin is a rather selective inhibitor of COX-1, the ability of aspirin to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer may be dependent on the level of COX-1 expression in those cells. Furthermore, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is frequently overexpressed in the malignant phenotype of ovarian cancer leading to increased cell proliferation and survival. Here we investigated if aspirin attenuates EGFR-activated ovarian cancer cell growth in a COX-1 dependent manner.

Methods: Cell viability assays and Western blot analyses were used to determine the effect of aspirin on EGF-stimulated cell proliferation. Gene silencing and gene expression techniques were employed to knockdown or to express COX-1, respectively.

Results: Aspirin inhibited cell viability induced by EGF in a dose dependent manner in COX-1 positive ovarian cancer cells. On the other hand, aspirin had no effect on cell viability in COX-1 negative ovarian cancer cells. In particular, aspirin decreased phosphorylated Akt and Erk activated by EGF. COX-1 silencing in COX-1 positive cells attenuated the inhibitory effect of aspirin on EGF-stimulated cell viability. Furthermore, we developed a COX-1 expressing cell line (SKCOX-1) by stably transfecting COX-1 expression vector into COX-1 negative SKOV-3 cells. SKCOX-1 cells were more responsive to aspirin when compared to cells transfected with empty vector, and decreased EGF-activated Akt and Erk as well as cell viability.

Conclusions: Taken together, aspirin inhibits viability of ovarian cancer cells by blocking phosphorylation of Akt and Erk activated by EGF. Thus it may potentiate the therapeutic efficacy of drugs used to treat COX-1 positive ovarian cancer subsets.

Keywords: ovarian cancer, aspirin, COX-1, EGF, Erk, Akt, cell viability.

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How to cite this article:
Cho M, Kabir SM, Dong Y, Lee E, Rice VM, Khabele D, Son DS. Aspirin Blocks EGF-stimulated Cell Viability in a COX-1 Dependent Manner in Ovarian Cancer Cells. J Cancer 2013; 4(8):671-678. doi:10.7150/jca.7118. Available from http://www.jcancer.org/v04p0671.htm