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J Natl Cancer Inst. 1997 Aug 6;89(15):1152-60.

Suppression of human colorectal mucosal prostaglandins: determining the lowest effective aspirin dose.

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  • 1Department of Family Practice, University of Michigan Medical School, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, Ann Arbor, USA.



A variety of studies have supported the finding that regular intake of aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents can affect colorectal cancer carcinogenesis. These agents inhibit the synthesis of prostaglandins. High levels of prostaglandins are observed in colon cancer tissues.


Experiments were planned to determine the lowest dose of aspirin that can markedly suppress the levels of mucosal prostaglandins E2 and F(2alpha) in colorectal mucosa and to determine whether a relationship exists between these levels and plasma levels of both acetylsalicylic acid and its metabolite, salicylic acid.


Healthy men and women aged 18 years or older participated in the study. The participants took a single, daily dose of aspirin (40.5, 81, 162, 324, or 648 mg) or a placebo for 14 days. Colorectal biopsy specimens were taken at baseline, 24 hours after the first dose of aspirin, and 24-30 hours and 72-78 hours after the last, i.e., fourteenth, daily dose of aspirin. The biopsy specimens were assayed for prostaglandins E2 and F(2alpha) by use of a competitive enzyme immunoassay. Plasma concentrations of acetylsalicylic acid and salicylic acid were determined by use of high-performance liquid chromatography. All P values are two-sided.


A total of 65 subjects (10 receiving placebo, groups of 10 each receiving 40.5, 81, 162, or 324 mg of aspirin, and a group of 15 receiving 648 mg of aspirin) completed the protocol. One subject reported unacceptable drug-induced toxic effects and did not complete the protocol; other subjects reported acceptable side effects. The lowest dose to significantly suppress colorectal mucosal prostaglandin E2 concentrations from baseline at 24 hours after the first dose (by 22.6%; P = .002) and at 24-30 hours after the last dose (by 14.2%; P = .021) was 162 mg. At 72-78 hours after the last dose, there was significant suppression for subjects receiving 81 mg (by 23.7%; P = .008). The lowest dose to significantly suppress colorectal mucosal prostaglandin F(2alpha) concentrations from baseline at 24 hours after the first dose (by 18.3%; P = .032) was 324 mg. The lowest dose causing a marked reduction in the level of prostaglandin F(2alpha) at 24-30 hours (by 15.1%; P = .003) and 72-78 hours (by 23.0%; P = .0002) after the last dose was 40.5 mg. No detectable amounts of acetylsalicylic acid or salicylic acid were present in the plasma at any of the biopsy time points.


The lowest doses of aspirin taken daily for 14 days to significantly suppress concentrations of colorectal mucosal prostaglandins E2 and F(2alpha) were 81 and 40.5 mg, respectively. The suppression occurred without detectable amounts of aspirin or salicylic acid in the plasma at the time points studied. On the basis of these observations, we recommend a single, daily dose of 81 mg of aspirin in future studies of this drug as a chemopreventive agent for colorectal cancer.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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