Selective inhibitors of MEK1/ERK 44/42 and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinases potentiate apoptosis induction by sulindac sulfide in human colon carcinoma cells

Yunjie Sun, Frank A. Sinicrope

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

45 Scopus citations


The nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) sulindac prevents experimental colon cancer and can regress precancerous polyps in humans. Sulindac sulfide inhibits cyclooxygenase (COX)-mediated prostaglandin synthesis and retards the growth of cultured colon cell lines primarily by inducing apoptosis. Given the known role of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) in signal transduction and the regulation of cell survival and death, we determined the effect of sulindac sulfide on MAPK activation, COX-2 expression, and apoptosis induction in HCA-7 human colon cancer cells. Sulindac sulfide treatment was associated with activation of ERKp44/42 and p38 MAPK in a dosage- and time-dependent manner, and also activated upstream MEK. Similar results were seen in HCT-15 cells and also with the selective COX-2 inhibitor NS398. ERKp44/42 and p38 activation were accompanied by an induction of COX-2 protein expression. Selective inhibitors of sulindac sulfide-induced ERKp44/42 (PD98059) and p38 MAPK (SB203580) activation also suppressed the induction of COX-2 by this NSAID. Furthermore, both MAPK inhibitors significantly augmented sulindac sulfide-induced apoptosis, as did suppression of constitutive COX-2 using antisense oligonucleotides. In conclusion, MEK/ERK and p38 MAPK activation mediate COX-2 induction by sulindac sulfide. Selective inhibitors of these MAPKs potentiate apoptosis induction by this NSAID, suggesting a novel strategy for the prevention or treatment of colorectal cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-59
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular cancer therapeutics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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