Aspirin exerts high anti-cancer activity in <i>PIK3CA</i>-mutant colon cancer cells

  • Gu M
  • Nishihara R
  • Chen Y
  • et al.
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© Gu et al. Evidence suggests that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) may improve patient survival in PIK3CA-mutant colorectal carcinoma, but not in PIK3CA-wild-type carcinoma. However, whether aspirin directly influences the viability of PIK3CA-mutant colon cancer cells is poorly understood. We conducted in vitro experiments to test our hypothesis that the anti-proliferative activity of aspirin might be stronger for PIK3CA-mutant colon cancer cells than for PIK3CA-wild-type colon cancer cells. We measured the anti-proliferative effect of aspirin at physiologic concentrations in seven PIK3CA-mutant and six PIK3CA-wildtype human colon cancer cell lines. After exposure to aspirin, the apoptotic index and cell cycle phase of colon cancer cells were assessed. In addition, the effect of aspirin was examined in parental SW48 cells and SW48 cell clones with individual knock-in PIK3CA mutations of either c.3140A > G (p.H1047R) or c.1633G > A (p.E545K). Aspirin induced greater dose-dependent loss of cell viability in PIK3CA-mutant cells than in PIK3CA-wild-type cells after treatment for 48 and 72 hours. Aspirin treatment also led to higher proportions of apoptotic cells and G0/G1 phase arrest in PIK3CA-mutant cells than in PIK3CA-wild-type cells. Aspirin treatment of isogenic SW48 cells carrying a PIK3CA mutation, either c.3140A > G (p.H1047R) or c.1633G > A (p. E545K), resulted in a more significant loss of cell viability compared to wild-type controls. Our findings indicate that aspirin causes cell cycle arrest, induces apoptosis, and leads to loss of cell viability more profoundly in PIK3CA-mutated colon cancer cells than in PIK3CAwild- type colon cancer cells. These findings support the use of aspirin to treat patients with PIK3CA-mutant colon cancer.




Gu, M., Nishihara, R., Chen, Y., Li, W., Shi, Y., Masugi, Y., … Ogino, S. (2017). Aspirin exerts high anti-cancer activity in PIK3CA-mutant colon cancer cells. Oncotarget, 8(50).

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