Journal Article

Celecoxib and difluoromethylornithine in combination have strong therapeutic activity against UV-induced skin tumors in mice

Susan M. Fischer, Claudio J. Conti, Jaye Viner, C.Marcelo Aldaz and Ronald A. Lubet

in Carcinogenesis

Volume 24, issue 5, pages 945-952
Published in print May 2003 | ISSN: 0143-3334
Published online May 2003 | e-ISSN: 1460-2180 | DOI:
Celecoxib and difluoromethylornithine in combination have strong therapeutic activity against UV-induced skin tumors in mice

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  • Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics


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The cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitor celecoxib and the ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) inhibitor difluoromethylornithine (DFMO) were each previously shown to prevent skin tumor development when administered throughout the course of UV irradiation. This raised the question of whether maintenance or continued growth of existing tumors required prostaglandins, the product of COX, or polyamines, the product of ODC. To address this question, SKH hairless mice were irradiated 3 times/week with 90 mJ/cm2; this dose was increased 10% weekly to a maximum of 175 mJ/cm2. UV was stopped at 27 weeks, at which time there were an average of 5 papillomas/mouse. The mice were then placed in one of four treatment groups: group 1, no treatment; group 2, 0.4% DFMO in the drinking water; group 3, 500 p.p.m. celecoxib in the diet (AIN76); group 4, both DFMO and celecoxib. The control group continued to produce new tumors in a nearly linear manner such that by week 31 the tumor number had nearly doubled, i.e. ∼10 tumors/mouse. The group receiving DFMO showed significant tumor regression, losing an average of 1 tumor/mouse/week, such that 50% of the tumors remained at week 31. The celecoxib group showed a 25% reduction in tumor number. The group receiving the combination of celecoxib and DFMO showed the greatest regression, with an 89% reduction in tumor number compared with the control group. There was also a corresponding reduction in the size of the tumors. To determine whether tumor regression was permanent or required continued treatment, all treatments were stopped at 31 weeks. Over the next 4 weeks, tumors reappeared at the same rate in all treatment groups. It is concluded that the combination of celecoxib and DFMO are potent therapeutic agents for skin cancer, although the benefits are lost with the cessation of treatment.

Keywords: BrdU, 5-bromo-2′-deoxyuridine; COX, cyclooxygenase; DFMO, d,l-α-difluoromethylornithine; FAP, familial adenomatosis polyposis; NSAIDs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; ODC, ornithine decarboxylase; SCC, squamous cell carcinoma

Journal Article.  5877 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics

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