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Cell Prolif. 2011 Aug;44(4):380-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2184.2011.00760.x. Epub 2011 Jun 6.

Two novel aspirin analogues show selective cytotoxicity in primary chronic lymphocytic leukaemia cells that is associated with dual inhibition of Rel A and COX-2.

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Department of Haematology, School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Heath Park, UK.



Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have been shown to induce apoptosis in primary B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) cells, but the molecular mechanisms that underpin this observation have not been fully elucidated. Here, we have analysed the effect two novel aspirin analogues, 2-hydroxy benzoate zinc (2HBZ) and 4-hydroxy benzoate zinc (4HBZ), on primary CLL samples.


Cytotoxic effects of 2HBZ and 4HBZ were analysed in primary CLL cells derived from 52 patients, and normal B- and T-lymphocytes. Mechanisms of action of these agents were also elucidated.


Both analogues induced apoptosis in a dose-dependent and time-dependent manner. Apoptosis was associated with activation of caspase-3 that could be partially abrogated by the caspase-9 inhibitor (Z-LEHD.fmk). Importantly, both agents demonstrated preferential cytotoxicity in CLL cells when compared to normal B- and T-lymphocytes. In terms of their molecular mechanisms of action, 4HBZ and 2HBZ inhibited COX-2 transcription and protein expression and this was associated with upstream inhibition of transcription factor Rel A. Co-culture of CLL cells with CD40 ligand-expressing mouse fibroblasts significantly increased COX-2 expression and inhibited spontaneous apoptosis. Importantly, the most potent analogue, 4HBZ, overcame pro-survival effects of the co-culture system and significantly repressed COX-2. Finally, elevated COX-2 expression was associated with poor prognostic subsets and increased sensitivity to 4HBZ.


Our results demonstrate therapeutic potential of 4HBZ and are consistent with a mechanism involving suppression of Rel A nuclear translocation and inhibition of COX-2 transcription.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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