Cimetidine inhibits cancer cell adhesion to endothelial cells and prevents metastasis by blocking E-selectin expression

Cancer Res. 2000 Jul 15;60(14):3978-84.


Although the beneficial effect of cimetidine on survival in cancer has been clinically demonstrated in colorectal cancer patients, the mode of action of cimetidine has not been elucidated. In this report, we have demonstrated for the first time that cimetidine can block the adhesion of a colorectal tumor cell line to the endothelial cell monolayer in cell culture and that it can suppress the metastasis of the tumor cell in a nude mouse model. We also demonstrated that these antimetastasis effects of cimetidine might occur through down-regulation of the cell surface expression of E-selectin on endothelial cells, a ligand for sialyl Lewis antigens on tumor cells. We found that the cimetidine-mediated down-regulation of E-selectin did not involve down-regulation of E-selectin mRNA or blocking of the nuclear translocation of nuclear factor kappaB, a transcriptional activator of E-selectin gene expression. Because two other histamine type 2 receptor antagonists, famotidine and ranitidine, did not show any similar effect, these actions of cimetidine probably do not occur via blocking of the histamine receptor. These observations support the idea that cancer metastasis can be blocked by cimetidine administration through blocking the adhesion of tumor cells to the endothelium when an interaction between E-selectin and sialyl-Lewis antigens plays a role.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion / drug effects
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Cimetidine / pharmacology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Down-Regulation
  • E-Selectin / metabolism*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Famotidine / pharmacology
  • Histamine H2 Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1 / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Oligosaccharides / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Ranitidine / pharmacology
  • Sialyl Lewis X Antigen
  • Transcriptional Activation
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Umbilical Veins / drug effects
  • Umbilical Veins / metabolism


  • E-Selectin
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Histamine H2 Antagonists
  • Interleukin-1
  • NF-kappa B
  • Oligosaccharides
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Sialyl Lewis X Antigen
  • Famotidine
  • Cimetidine
  • Ranitidine