Background: In patients with Barrett's esophagus, chronic reflux injury and inflammation are associated with esophageal adenocarcinoma, one of the most rapidly increasing lethal cancers. Epidemiological and preclinical studies support decreased risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma with NSAID use. Gastroesophageal refluxate contents can promote carcinogenesis in Barrett's metaplasia by activating AKT, which up regulates COX-2 expression and prostaglandin biosynthesis. We recently noted that neoplastic transformation in Barrett's esophagus is associated with increased AKT expression, particularly isoform AKT1.

The AIM of this study is to investigate the effect of NSAID (Aspirin) use in patients with Barrett's esophagus on AKT1 expression using frozen tissue from the randomized, phase II trial of aspirin and esomeprazole for esophageal cancer chemoprevention in Barrett's esophagus patients and to assess the functional consequences of AKT1 expression in-vitro.

Methods and Results: In a subset of patients (12 of 120 patients) with Barrett's esophagus who were randomized to placebo, lower dose (81 mg) or higher dose (325 mg) Aspirin for 4 weeks, both PCR and Western blot revealed marked reduction in AKT1 expression in patients who received 325 mg of Aspirin daily compared to patients who received placebo. Our in-vitro experiments support that AKT1 expression is functionally relevant to the process of carcinogenesis in Barrett's epithelial cells. Using adenovirus to induce AKT1 expression, we show that increased AKT1 expression increases Barrett's epithelial cell growth, facilitates RAS-mediated transformation of pre-neoplastic epithelial cells and promotes colony formation. Since AKT1 is known as Warburg kinase and regulates cellular glucose uptake to support aerobic glycolysis during growth de-regulation and neoplasia, we examined the uptake of fluorescent deoxyglucose analog (2-NBDG) in Barrett's epithelial cells transduced with AKT1 adenovirus. At 48 hrs, compared to control, AKT1 overexpression resulted in increased glucose uptake both by metaplastic and neoplastic Barrett's epithelial cells. Transcriptional repression of AKT1 abrogated the 2-NBDG uptake by these cells. Finally, we did pathway specific qPCRs and noted that use of Aspirin is associated with altered expression of chromatin remodelers that could down-regulate AKT1 expression.

Conclusion: Collectively, our results demonstrate that Aspirin mediated down-regulation of Warburg kinase AKT1 in patients with Barrett?s esophagus is a novel mechanism for the regulation of Barrett?s epithelial cell growth. The in-depth characterization of molecular mechanisms is currently underway.

This abstract is also presented as Poster A82.

Citation Format: Navtej S. Buttar, Gary W. Falk, Cathrine J. DeMars, Sonia Chowdhury, Ahmed Elebiary, Anamay Sharma, Sidhartha Chaudhry, Nathan R. Foster, Katie L. Allen Ziegler, Yvonne Romero, Norman E. Marcon, Thomas Schnell, Douglas A. Corley, Prateek Sharma, Marcia R. Cruz-Correa, Chin Hur, David E. Fleischer, Amitabh Chak, Kenneth R. DeVault, David S. Weinberg, Gary Della’Zanna, Ellen Richmond, Thomas C. Smyrk, Sumithra Mandrekar, Paul J. Limburg. Aspirin mediated downregulation of Warburg kinase AKT1 in patients with Barrett's esophagus: Implications in neoplastic transformation. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the Eleventh Annual AACR International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research; 2012 Oct 16-19; Anaheim, CA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Prev Res 2012;5(11 Suppl):Abstract nr PR-03.