Heat shock protein (HSP) synthesis is induced by hyperthermia and other types of stress in mammalian cells in vitro and in vivo. In the present report we describe that in human erythroleukemic cells, aspirin (400 µm), when administered during or immediately after a hyperthermic treatment, causes an increase in the amount of HSP70 synthesized and prolongs HSP70 synthesis for a period of several hours. This effect is not due to increased HSP70 mRNA stability. In the presence of aspirin, the heat shock transcription factor is maintained in the activated DNA-binding state for a period twice as long as control, an effect which results in enhanced and prolonged HSP70 mRNA transcription. A different cyclooxygenase inhibitor, indomethacin (10-7m), also provokes similar effects. The modulation of the heat shock response by aspirin and indomethacin is associated with the ability of these drugs to potentiate the effect of hyperthermia and prolong thermotolerance for a period of 48 h. These results indicate that the use of aspirin and indomethacin should be carefully monitored in cancer patients undergoing hyperthermic treatment. On the other hand, the ability of aspirin to enhance HSP70 synthesis suggests that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs could potentiate the cytoprotective role of HSPs in pathological states, including fever, inflammation, and ischemia.

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This work was supported by grants from the Italian Ministry of Public Health, VIII AIDS Research Project, and from the Italian National Research Council (Grant 94.02521 and Progetto Finalizzato ACRO).

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