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Mol Cancer Ther. 2008 Nov;7(11):3539-45. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-08-0512. Epub 2008 Oct 30.

Carprofen induction of p75NTR-dependent apoptosis via the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway in prostate cancer cells.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular & Cellular Biology, Georgetown University Medical Center, 3900 Reservoir Road Northwest, Washington, DC 20057-1436, USA.


The p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75(NTR)) functions as a tumor suppressor in prostate epithelial cells, where its expression declines with progression to malignant cancer. Previously, we showed that treatment with R-flurbiprofen or ibuprofen induced p75(NTR) expression in several prostate cancer cell lines leading to p75(NTR)-mediated decreased survival. Using the 2-phenyl propionic acid moiety of these profens as a pharmacophore, we screened an in silico database of 30 million compounds and identified carprofen as having an order of magnitude greater activity for induction of p75(NTR) levels and inhibition of cell survival. Prostate (PC-3 and DU-145) and bladder (T24) cancer cells were more sensitive to carprofen induction of p75(NTR)-associated loss of survival than breast (MCF-7) and fibroblast (3T3) cells. Transfection of prostate cell lines with a dominant-negative form of p75(NTR) before carprofen treatment partially rescued cell survival, showing a cause-and-effect relationship between carprofen induction of p75(NTR) levels and inhibition of survival. Carprofen induced apoptotic nuclear fragmentation in prostate but not in MCF-7 and 3T3 cells. Furthermore, small interfering RNA knockdown of the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) protein prevented induction of p75(NTR) by carprofen in both prostate cell lines. Carprofen treatment induced phosphorylation of p38 MAPK as early as within 1 min. Expression of a dominant-negative form of MK2, the kinase downstream of p38 MAPK frequently associated with signaling cascades leading to apoptosis, prevented carprofen induction of the p75(NTR) protein. Collectively, we identify carprofen as a highly potent profen capable of inducing p75(NTR)-dependent apoptosis via the p38 MAPK pathway in prostate cancer cells.

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