Chemopreventive effects of celecoxib are limited to hormonally responsive mammary carcinomas in the neu-induced retroviral rat model

Breast Cancer Res. 2008;10(1):R18. doi: 10.1186/bcr1864. Epub 2008 Feb 15.


Introduction: While current breast cancer chemoprevention strategies using selective estrogen response modulators and aromatase inhibitors are quite successful, their effects are limited to hormonally responsive breast cancer. Hormonally nonresponsive breast cancer (including estrogen receptor-negative cancer) is associated with poor prognosis for patients, and few chemoprevention agents exist for this type of cancer. The cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitor celecoxib (Celebrex) is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug and as such is a potential candidate for the prevention of hormonally nonresponsive breast cancer.

Methods: The chemopreventive effects of celecoxib were evaluated in the neu-induced retroviral rat mammary carcinogenesis model, to assess the efficacy of celecoxib on hormonally responsive and hormonally nonresponsive mammary carcinomas.

Results: Dietary celecoxib at 1,200 mg/kg diet was highly efficacious in the prevention of hormonally responsive mammary carcinomas in intact rats, decreasing tumor multiplicity by 56% (P < 0.0001) and by 74% (P = 0.0002) in two independent experiments. No significant effect was found, however, on hormonally nonresponsive mammary carcinomas of ovariectomized rats. Treatment with a combination diet, consisting of tamoxifen at 2 mg/kg diet and celecoxib at 1,200 mg/kg diet, reduced tumor multiplicity by 72% (P = 0.0002) in intact rats. This reduction was not statistically different from that observed with celecoxib alone. Furthermore, long-term treatment with celecoxib was not associated with reductions in tumor volume in either intact rats or ovariectomized rats. In contrast, tamoxifen treatment and the combination regimen caused significant reductions in tumor volumes in intact rats (P = 0.01 and P = 0.004, respectively). Consistent with these data, decreases in proliferation and increases in apoptosis were detected in tamoxifen-treated and combination diet-treated tumors. No such modulations were observed in celecoxib-treated tumors.

Conclusion: The chemopreventive effects of celecoxib appear to be limited to modulations in multiplicity of hormonally responsive mammary carcinomas. The fact that no synergistic or additive effects were observed in combination diet-treated rats raises the question of whether celecoxib is suitable for the prevention of hormonally nonresponsive breast cancer or for use in combination therapy with selective estrogen response modulators or aromatase inhibitors.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Breast / drug effects*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Celecoxib
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Pyrazoles / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred WF
  • Sulfonamides / pharmacology*
  • Tamoxifen / pharmacology*


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 Inhibitors
  • Pyrazoles
  • Sulfonamides
  • Tamoxifen
  • Celecoxib