Co-targeting of Cyclooxygenase-2 and FoxM1 is a viable strategy in inducing anticancer effects in colorectal cancer cells

Maqbool Ahmed, Azhar R. Hussain, Abdul K. Siraj, Shahab Uddin, Nasser Al-Sanea, Fouad Al-Dayel, Mohammed Al-Assiri, Shaham Beg, Khawla S. Al-Kuraya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Cross-talk between deregulated signaling pathways in cancer cells causes uncontrolled growth and proliferation. These cancers cells become more aggressive and quickly develop resistance to therapy. Therefore targeting of these deregulated pathways simultaneously can result in efficient cell death of cancer cells. In this study we investigated co-expression of Cox-2 and FoxM1 in a cohort of colorectal carcinoma (CRC) samples and also examined whether inhibition of Cox-2 and FoxM1 simultaneously can lead to inhibition of cell viability and induction of apoptosis in colorectal cancer cell lines and in vivo xenografts. Methods: Protein expression of Cox-2 and FoxM1 was determined in a large cohort of 770 clinical CRC samples in a tissue micro-array format by immunohistochemistry. Cell death was measured using live dead assay. Apoptosis was measured by annexin V/PI dual staining. Immunoblotting was performed to examine the expression of proteins. Calcusyn software was utilized to estimate the synergistic doses using chou and Talalay method. Results: Co-expression of Cox-2 and FoxM1 was detected in 33.3 % (232/697) of CRC's and associated with an aggressive phenotype characterized by younger age (p = 0.0191), high proliferative index marker; Ki-67 (p = 0.004) and MMP-9 (p = 0.0116) as well as activation of AKT (p = 0.0214). In vitro, inhibition of FoxM1 and Cox-2 with pharmacological inhibitors; Thiostrepton and NS398 resulted in efficient down-regulation of FoxM1 and Cox-2 expression along with in-activation of AKT and inhibition of colony formation, invasion and migratory capability of CRC cells. In addition, there was also inhibition of cell viability and induction of apoptosis via the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway in CRC cell lines. Finally, treatment of CRC xenograft tumors in nude mice with combination of Cox-2 and FoxM1 inhibitors inhibited tumor growth significantly via down-regulation of Cox-2 and FoxM1 expression. Conclusions: These findings demonstrate that co-expression of Cox-2 and FoxM1 might play a critical role in the pathogenesis of CRC. Therefore, targeting of these pathways simultaneously with sub toxic doses of pharmacological inhibitors can be a potential therapeutic approach for the treatment of this subset of CRC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number131
JournalMolecular Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell viability
  • Colony formation
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Cox-2
  • FoxM1
  • Invasion


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