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 the rapeutic efficacy of drugs used to treat COX-1 positive ovarian cancer subsets.
- Cell viability
- Ovarian cancer