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01.12.2012 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2012 Open Access

World Journal of Surgical Oncology 1/2012

Cyclooxygenase/lipoxygenase shunting lowers the anti-cancer effect of cyclooxygenase-2 inhibition in colorectal cancer cells

World Journal of Surgical Oncology > Ausgabe 1/2012
Radhakrishnan Ganesh, Daniel JB Marks, Kevin Sales, Marc C Winslet, Alexander M Seifalian
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​1477-7819-10-200) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

RG contributed in conception, carried out experimental assays, acquisition of data,analysis, interpretation of data and in preparing the manuscript. DJBM involved in statistical analysis and drafting the manuscript. KS contributed in conception, design, experimental assay and interpretation of data and statistical analysis. MW contributed in conception, design and interpretation of the data. AS contribution includes conception, design, in carrying out experimental assay and interpretation of the data. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



Arachidonic acid metabolite, generated by cyclooxygenase (COX), is implicated in the colorectal cancer (CRC) pathogenesis. Inhibiting COX may therefore have anti-carcinogenic effects. Results from use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs inhibiting only COX have been conflicting. It has been postulated that this might result from the shunting of arachidonic acid metabolism to the 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX) pathway. Cancer cell viability is promoted by 5-LOX through several mechanisms that are similar to those of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). Expression of 5-LOX is upregulated in colorectal adenoma and cancer. The aim of this study was to investigate the shunting of arachidonic acid metabolism to the 5-LOX pathway by cyclooxygenase inhibition and to determine if this process antagonizes the anti-cancer effect in colorectal cancer cells.


Three colorectal cancer cell lines (HCA7, HT-29 & LoVo) expressing 5-LOX and different levels of COX-2 expression were used. The effects of aspirin (a non-selective COX inhibitor) and rofecoxib (COX-2 selective) on prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) and leukotriene B4 (LTB4) secretion were quantified by ELISA. Proliferation and viability were studied by quantifying double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) content and metabolic activity. Apoptosis was determined by annexin V and propidium iodide staining using confocal microscopy, and caspase-3/7 activity by fluorescent substrate assay.


COX inhibitors suppressed PGE2 production but enhanced LTB4 secretion in COX-2 expressing cell lines (P <0.001). The level of COX-2 expression in colorectal cancer cells did not significantly influence the anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic effects of COX inhibitors due to the shunting mechanism.


This study provides evidence of shunting between COX and 5-LOX pathways in the presence of unilateral inhibition, and may explain the conflicting anti-carcinogenic effects reported with use of COX inhibitors.
Authors’ original file for figure 1
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