Influence of K-ras activation on the survival responses of Caco-2 cells to the chemopreventive agents sulindac and difluoromethylornithine

Kathryn R. Lawson, Natalia A. Ignatenko, Gary A. Piazza, Hiayan Cui, Eugene W. Gerner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


The nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug sulindac and the ornithine decarboxylase inhibitor difluoromethylornithine (DFMO) are both potent inhibitors of colon carcinogenesis in experimental models of this disease. The combination of these two agents is undergoing evaluation as a strategy for colon cancer chemoprevention in humans with resected colon polyps. We evaluated the effects of the major sulfide and sulfone metabolites of sulindac and DFMO alone, or in combinations, on the growth and survival of Caco-2 colon cancer-derived cells and in clones of these cells transfected with an activated K-ras oncogene. Both the sulfide and sulfone metabolites of sulindac reduced cell viability, measured by colony-forming assays, primarily by inducing apoptosis. Expression of an activated K-ras oncogene caused cells treated with either sulindac sulfide or sulfone to undergo apoptosis earlier than nontransfected controls. However, clonogenic survival, measured 2 weeks after drug treatment, was the same in both Caco-2 and ras-transfected Caco-2 cells treated with sulindac metabolites. A 24-h treatment with DFMO caused a dose-dependent decrease in the colony-forming ability of cells expressing an activated K-ras but had no effect on the viability of the parental Caco-2 cells. The DFMO-dependent decrease in colony formation in K-ras-activated cells occurred in the absence of apoptosis. Assessment of cell survival by colony-forming assays indicated that these two agents acted in an additive manner when combined. These data indicate that K-ras can influence the kinetics of apoptosis induction by sulindac metabolites and cell survival in response to DFMO. However, cytotoxicity induced by these agents occurs via unique mechanisms. These studies suggest that the combination of DFMO and sulindac may be useful in human cancer prevention strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1155-1162
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Oncology


Dive into the research topics of 'Influence of K-ras activation on the survival responses of Caco-2 cells to the chemopreventive agents sulindac and difluoromethylornithine'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this