Epidemiological and laboratory studies indicate an inverse relationship between the risk of colon cancer development and intake of nonsteroidal antiinflammatory agents, including aspirin. One of the mechanisms by which nonsteroidal antiinflammatory agents inhibit colon carcinogenesis is through the inhibition of prostaglandin production by cyclooxygenase isozymes (COX-1 and COX-2). Overexpression of COX-2 has been observed in colon tumors. Thus, selective inhibitors of COX-2 could potentially serve as chemopreventive agents. We have assessed the chemopreventive properties of SC-58635, a COX-2 inhibitor, and of sulindac, as a positive control, in a double-blind study, using azoxymethane-induced colonic aberrant crypt foci (ACF) as a measure of efficacy. Five-week-old male F344 rats were fed the control diet (modified AIN-76A) or experimental diets containing 150 or 1500 ppm SC-58635, 320 ppm sulindac, or 1500 ppm placebo. Two weeks later, all animals except those in vehicle (normal saline)-treated groups were s.c. injected with azoxymethane (15 mg/kg of body weight, once weekly for 2 weeks). At 16 weeks of age, all rats were sacrificed and colons were evaluated for ACF. As expected, dietary administration of sulindac suppressed ACF development as such and reduced crypt multiplicity in terms of number of aberrant crypts/focus. Administration of 1500 ppm SC-58635 inhibited total ACF induction and crypt multiplicity by about 40–49%. Our finding that SC-58635 significantly suppressed colonic ACF formation and crypt multiplicity strengthens the hypothesis that a selective COX-2 inhibitor possesses chemopreventive activity against colon carcinogenesis.
Supported in part by Searle Research and Development (St. Louis, MO).