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Neoplasia. 2006 Sep;8(9):758-71.

Mechanisms of indomethacin-induced alterations in the choline phospholipid metabolism of breast cancer cells.

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MR Oncology Section, Division of MR Research, The Russell H. Morgan Department of Radiology and Radiological Science, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


Human mammary epithelial cells (HMECs) exhibit an increase in phosphocholine (PC) and total choline-containing compounds, as well as a switch from high glycerophosphocholine (GPC)/low PC to low GPC/high PC, with progression to malignant phenotype. The treatment of human breast cancer cells with a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agent, indomethacin, reverted the high PC/low GPC pattern to a low PC/high GPC pattern indicative of a less malignant phenotype, supported by decreased invasion. Here, we have characterized mechanisms underlying indomethacin-induced alterations in choline membrane metabolism in malignant breast cancer cells and nonmalignant HMECs labeled with [1,2-13C]choline using 1H and 13C magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Microarray gene expression analysis was performed to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying these changes. In breast cancer cells, indomethacin treatment activated phospholipases that, combined with an increased choline phospholipid biosynthesis, led to increased GPC and decreased PC levels. However, in nonmalignant HMECs, activation of the anabolic pathway alone was detected following indomethacin treatment. Following indomethacin treatment in breast cancer cells, several candidate genes, such as interleukin 8, NGFB, CSF2, RHOB, EDN1, and JUNB, were differentially expressed, which may have contributed to changes in choline metabolism through secondary effects or signaling cascades leading to changes in enzyme activity.

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