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Cancer Res. 2006 Jul 15;66(14):7370-7.

Chemoprevention of familial adenomatous polyposis by low doses of atorvastatin and celecoxib given individually and in combination to APCMin mice.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Hem-Onc Section, University of Oklahoma Cancer Institute, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73104, USA.


Preclinical and clinical studies have established evidence that cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitors and statins [hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl CoA reductase (HMGR) inhibitors] inhibit colon carcinogenesis. Chronic use of high doses of COX-2 inhibitors may induce side effects, and combining the low doses of agents may be an effective way to increase their efficacy and minimize the side effects. We assessed the chemopreventive efficacy of atorvastatin (Lipitor) and celecoxib individually or in combination in an animal model of familial adenomatous polyposis. Six-week-old male C57BL/6J-APCmin/+ mice were either fed diets containing 0 or 100 ppm atorvastatin or 300 ppm celecoxib, or a combination of both for approximately 80 days. Mice were sacrificed, and their intestines were scored for tumors. Normal-seeming mucosa and intestinal tumors were harvested and assayed for apoptosis (terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated nick-end labeling) and HMGR and COX-2 protein expression and activity. We observed that 100 ppm atorvastatin significantly (P < 0.002) suppressed intestinal polyp formation. As anticipated, 300 ppm celecoxib decreased the rate of formation of intestinal polyps by approximately 70% (P < 0.0001). Importantly, the combination of 100 ppm atorvastatin and 300 ppm celecoxib in the diet suppressed the colon polyps completely and small intestinal polyps by >86% (P < 0.0001) compared with the control group. The inhibition of tumor formation by the atorvastatin and celecoxib combination was significant (P < 0.005) when compared with tumor inhibition by celecoxib alone. In addition, increased rates of apoptosis in intestinal tumors (P < 0.01-0.0001) were observed in animals fed with atorvastatin and celecoxib and more so with the combinations. Tumors of animals fed atorvastatin showed a significant decrease in HMGR-R activity. Similarly, tumors of mice exposed to celecoxib showed significantly lower levels of COX-2 activity. These observations show that atorvastatin inhibits intestinal tumorigenesis and that, importantly, when given together with low doses of celecoxib, it significantly increases the chemopreventive efficacy in an APC(min) mice.

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