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J Lipid Res. 2013 Nov;54(11):3116-29. doi: 10.1194/jlr.M042283. Epub 2013 Aug 12.

Induction but not inhibition of COX-2 confers human lung cancer cell apoptosis by celecoxib.

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Institute of Toxicology and Pharmacology, University of Rostock, Schillingallee 70, D-18057 Rostock, Germany.


The antitumorigenic mechanism of the selective cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitor celecoxib is still a matter of debate. Among different structurally related COX-2 inhibitors, only celecoxib was found to cause apoptosis and cell death of human lung cancer cells (IC₅₀ values of 19.96 µM [A549], 12.48 µM [H460], and 41.39 µM [H358]) that was paralleled by a time- and concentration-dependent upregulation of COX-2 and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ) at mRNA and protein levels. Apoptotic death of celecoxib-treated cancer cells was suppressed by the PPARγ antagonist GW9662 and by siRNA targeting PPARγ and, surprisingly, also by the selective COX-2 inhibitor NS-398 and siRNA targeting COX-2. NS-398 (1 µM) was shown to suppress celecoxib-induced COX-2 activity. Among the COX-2-dependent prostaglandins (PG) induced upon celecoxib treatment, PGD₂ and 15-deoxy-Δ¹²,¹⁴-PGJ₂ were found to induce a cytosol-to-nucleus translocation of PPARγ as well as a PPARγ-dependent apoptosis. Celecoxib-elicited PPARγ translocation was inhibited by NS-398. Finally, a COX-2- and PPARγ-dependent cytotoxic action of celecoxib was proven for primary human lung tumor cells. Together, our data demonstrate a proapoptotic mechanism of celecoxib involving initial upregulation of COX-2 and PPARγ and a subsequent nuclear translocation of PPARγ by COX-2-dependent PGs.


cyclooxygenase-2; nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs; peroxisome proliferator activated receptor gamma; prostaglandins

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