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Mol Pharmacol. 2007 Dec;72(6):1586-92. Epub 2007 Sep 11.

Aspirin enhances tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand-mediated apoptosis in hormone-refractory prostate cancer cells through survivin down-regulation.

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Department of Surgery and Pharmacology, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.


Tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) is a promising cancer therapeutic agent because of its tumor selectivity. TRAIL is known to induce apoptosis in cancer cells but spare most normal cells. In this study, we examined whether acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), so-called aspirin, enhances TRAIL-induced apoptosis in androgen-dependent LNCaP and androgen-independent LNCaP-derived prostate cancer cells. To evaluate the cell death effects of TRAIL in combination with ASA on tumor cells, we performed DNA fragmentation assay and immunoblot analysis for poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1, caspases, and anti-apoptotic proteins. We observed that ASA promoted TRAIL-induced apoptotic death in both LNCaP and its derived cells (C4, C4-2, and C4-2B). These enhancements of TRAIL's effect were related to the decrease in survivin protein expression by pretreatment with ASA. We also confirmed that knockdown in survivin expression by transfecting survivin small interfering RNA increased TRAIL-induced apoptosis. To study the mechanism of survivin down-regulation, we determined the levels of mRNA and the activities of survivin promoter in the ASA-treated and untreated cells. Reduction of the intracellular levels of survivin protein was due to a decrease in transcriptional activity. Data from electrophoretic mobility shift assay and chromatin immunoprecipitation analyses revealed that ASA inhibited the transcription factor E2F-1 binding activity to the survivin promoter region, which is known to regulate survivin gene transcription. Taken together, our studies suggested that ASA-promoted TRAIL cytotoxicity is mediated by down-regulating survivin, and the down-regulation of survivin is due to inhibition of E2F-1 binding activity to the survivin promoter region.

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