Inhibition of angiogenesis by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: insight into mechanisms and implications for cancer growth and ulcer healing

Nat Med. 1999 Dec;5(12):1418-23. doi: 10.1038/70995.


Angiogenesis, the formation of new capillary blood vessels, is essential not only for the growth and metastasis of solid tumors, but also for wound and ulcer healing, because without the restoration of blood flow, oxygen and nutrients cannot be delivered to the healing site. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, indomethacin and ibuprofen are the most widely used drugs for pain, arthritis, cardiovascular diseases and, more recently, the prevention of colon cancer and Alzheimer disease. However, NSAIDs produce gastroduodenal ulcers in about 25% of users (often with bleeding and/or perforations) and delay ulcer healing, presumably by blocking prostaglandin synthesis from cyclooxygenase (COX)-1 and COX-2 (ref. 10). The hypothesis that the gastrointestinal side effects of NSAIDs result from inhibition of COX-1, but not COX-2 (ref. 11), prompted the development of NSAIDs that selectively inhibit only COX-2 (such as celecoxib and rofecoxib). Our study demonstrates that both selective and nonselective NSAIDs inhibit angiogenesis through direct effects on endothelial cells. We also show that this action involves inhibition of mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase (ERK2) activity, interference with ERK nuclear translocation, is independent of protein kinase C and has prostaglandin-dependent and prostaglandin-independent components. Finally, we show that both COX-1 and COX-2 are important for the regulation of angiogenesis. These findings challenge the premise that selective COX-2 inhibitors will not affect the gastrointestinal tract and ulcer/wound healing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / adverse effects*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cyclooxygenase 1
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 Inhibitors
  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / cytology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Indomethacin / pharmacology
  • Isoenzymes / physiology
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1 / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / blood supply*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / enzymology
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / prevention & control*
  • Nitrobenzenes / pharmacology
  • Peptic Ulcer / chemically induced*
  • Peptic Ulcer / pathology
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases / physiology
  • Rats
  • Sulfonamides / pharmacology
  • Wound Healing / drug effects


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 Inhibitors
  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors
  • Flavonoids
  • Isoenzymes
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Nitrobenzenes
  • Sulfonamides
  • N-(2-cyclohexyloxy-4-nitrophenyl)methanesulfonamide
  • Cyclooxygenase 1
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • PTGS1 protein, human
  • PTGS2 protein, human
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases
  • Ptgs1 protein, rat
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1
  • 2-(2-amino-3-methoxyphenyl)-4H-1-benzopyran-4-one
  • Indomethacin