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Mol Cancer Ther. 2007 Apr;6(4):1262-75.

Calcium-activated endoplasmic reticulum stress as a major component of tumor cell death induced by 2,5-dimethyl-celecoxib, a non-coxib analogue of celecoxib.

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Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.


A drawback of extensive coxib use for antitumor purposes is the risk of life-threatening side effects that are thought to be a class effect and probably due to the resulting imbalance of eicosanoid levels. 2,5-Dimethyl-celecoxib (DMC) is a close structural analogue of the selective cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitor celecoxib that lacks cyclooxygenase-2-inhibitory function but that nonetheless is able to potently mimic the antitumor effects of celecoxib in vitro and in vivo. To further establish the potential usefulness of DMC as an anticancer agent, we compared DMC and various coxibs and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs with regard to their ability to stimulate the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress response (ESR) and subsequent apoptotic cell death. We show that DMC increases intracellular free calcium levels and potently triggers the ESR in various tumor cell lines, as indicated by transient inhibition of protein synthesis, activation of ER stress-associated proteins GRP78/BiP, CHOP/GADD153, and caspase-4, and subsequent tumor cell death. Small interfering RNA-mediated knockdown of the protective chaperone GRP78 further sensitizes tumor cells to killing by DMC, whereas inhibition of caspase-4 prevents drug-induced apoptosis. In comparison, celecoxib less potently replicates these effects of DMC, whereas none of the other tested coxibs (rofecoxib and valdecoxib) or traditional nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (flurbiprofen, indomethacin, and sulindac) trigger the ESR or cause apoptosis at comparable concentrations. The effects of DMC are not restricted to in vitro conditions, as this drug also generates ER stress in xenografted tumor cells in vivo, concomitant with increased apoptosis and reduced tumor growth. We propose that it might be worthwhile to further evaluate the potential of DMC as a non-coxib alternative to celecoxib for anticancer purposes.

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