Inhibited proliferation of cyclooxygenase-2 expressing human hepatoma cells by NS-398, a selective COX-2 inhibitor

Ke-Qin Hu, Chang-Hong Yu, Yoshimitsu Mineyama, John D McCracken, Donald J Hillebrand, Mateen Hasan
International Journal of Oncology 2003, 22 (4): 757-63
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a growing human health problem worldwide. Limited treatment and poor prognosis of this disease emphasize the importance in developing an effective chemoprevention. Overexpression of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) has been associated with hepatocarcinogenesis. Although COX-2 inhibitors have been tested for chemoprevention of colon cancer, it remains unknown whether these agents possess anti-HCC effects as well. The present study assessed the effects of a selective COX-2 inhibitor, NS-398, on proliferation of human hepatoma cells in association with COX-2 expression, and the possible mechanisms. In four tested human hepatoma cell lines, overexpression of COX-2 was confirmed in HepG2, HuH7, and Chang liver cells, but not in PLC/PRF/5 cells. Addition of 50 micro M NS-398 resulted in both dose-dependent and time-course inhibition of HepG2 proliferation. In contrast, addition of 50 micro M NS-398 to COX-2 non-expressing PLC/PRF/5 cells resulted in only a mild reduction of cell proliferation. Consistent with this, a 48-h culture of HepG2 cells with 50 micro M NS-398 caused a significant decrease of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) production. While, the same NS-398 treatment showed only a mild suppression of PGE2 production in COX-2 non-expressing PLC/PRF/5 cells. These findings indicate that NS-398-induced suppression of HepG2 proliferation appears mediated by decreased COX-2/prostaglandin (PG) production. We also found that NS-398-induced inhibition of HepG2 proliferation was associated with decreased 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BrdU) uptake, suggesting a reduced cell cycle progression in G1-S transition. NS-398 treatment also enhanced the apoptotic rate in COX-2 expressing HepG2 cells, but not in COX-2 non-expressing PLC/PRF/5 cells. Our findings confirmed an effective inhibitory effect of NS-398 on proliferation of COX-2 expressing human hepatoma cells through a decreased COX-2/PG activity that is associated with altered cell cycle progression and apoptotic rate.

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