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Clin Cancer Res. 2004 Jul 15;10(14):4670-9.

Inhibition of cyclooxygenase-1 and -2 expression by targeting the endothelin a receptor in human ovarian carcinoma cells.

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  • 1Laboratories of Molecular Pathology and Ultrastructure and Immunology, Regina Elena Cancer Institute, Rome, Italy.



New therapies against cancer are based on targeting cyclooxygenase (COX)-2. Activation of the endothelin A receptor (ET(A)R) by endothelin (ET)-1 is biologically relevant in several malignancies, including ovarian carcinoma. In this tumor, the ET-1/ET(A)R autocrine pathway promotes mitogenesis, apoptosis protection, invasion, and neoangiogenesis. Because COX-1 and COX-2 are involved in ovarian carcinoma progression, we investigated whether ET-1 induced COX-1 and COX-2 expression through the ET(A)R at the mRNA and protein level in HEY and OVCA 433 ovarian carcinoma cell lines by Northern blot, reverse transcription-PCR, Western blot, and immunohistochemistry; we also investigated the activity of the COX-2 promoter by luciferase assay and the release of prostaglandin (PG) E(2) by ELISA.


ET-1 significantly increases the expression of COX-1 and COX-2, COX-2 promoter activity, and PGE(2) production. These effects depend on ET(A)R activation and involve multiple mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathways, including p42/44 MAPK, p38 MAPK, and transactivation of the epidermal growth factor receptor. COX-2 inhibitors and, in part, COX-1 inhibitor blocked ET-1-induced PGE(2) and vascular endothelial growth factor release, indicating that both enzymes participate in PGE(2) production to a different extent. Moreover, inhibition of human ovarian tumor growth in nude mice after treatment with the potent ET(A)R-selective antagonist ABT-627 is associated with reduced COX-2 and vascular endothelial growth factor expression.


These results indicate that impairing COX-1 and COX-2 and their downstream effect by targeting ET(A)R can be therapeutically advantageous in ovarian carcinoma treatment. Pharmacological blockade of the ET(A)R is an attractive strategy to control COX-2 induction, which has been associated with ovarian carcinoma progression and chemoresistance.

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