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J Natl Cancer Inst. 2004 Dec 1;96(23):1769-80.

Death receptor regulation and celecoxib-induced apoptosis in human lung cancer cells.

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Winship Cancer Institute, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.



Celecoxib, a cyclooxygenase 2 inhibitor, has chemopreventive and therapeutic activities toward lung cancer and other epithelial malignancies. Celecoxib can induce apoptosis in various cancer cell lines through a mechanism that is independent of its cyclooxygenase 2 inhibitory activity but is otherwise largely uncharacterized. We investigated the mechanism of celecoxib-induced apoptosis further.


All experiments were conducted in human non-small-cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) cell lines; results in celecoxib-treated and untreated cells were compared. Cell survival was assessed with a sulforhodamine B assay. Apoptosis was assessed by DNA fragmentation with an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, by terminal deoxynucleotidyltransferase-mediated dUTP nick-end-labeling (TUNEL) assay, and by western blot analysis of caspase activation. Death receptor gene and protein expression was detected by northern and western blot analysis, respectively. Gene silencing was achieved with small interfering RNA (siRNA) technology.


Celecoxib treatment decreased cell survival, activated caspase cascades, and increased DNA fragmentation, all of which were abrogated when caspase 8 expression was silenced with caspase 8 siRNA. Celecoxib treatment induced the expression of death receptors, particularly that of DR5. Overexpression of a dominant negative Fas-associated death domain mutant, but not of BCL2, reduced the level of celecoxib-induced apoptosis, and silencing of DR5 expression by DR5 siRNA suppressed celecoxib-induced caspase 8 activation and apoptosis. Combination treatment with celecoxib and tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) induced additional apoptosis. For example, survival of A549 cells was decreased with 50 muM celecoxib alone by 38.7% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 35.2% to 42.2%), with TRAIL alone by 29.3% (95% CI = 25.1% to 33.6%), but with their combination by 77.5% (95% CI = 74.5% to 79.5%), a greater than additive effect.


Celecoxib appears to induce apoptosis in human NSCLC through the extrinsic death receptor pathway.

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