Synergistic Effect of COX-2 Inhibitor on Paclitaxel-Induced Apoptosis in the Human Ovarian Cancer Cell Line OVCAR-3

Cancer Res Treat. 2014 Jan;46(1):81-92. doi: 10.4143/crt.2014.46.1.81. Epub 2014 Jan 15.


Purpose: Celecoxib, a highly selective cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitor, regulates apoptosis of several types of human cancer cells. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether celecoxib in combination with paclitaxel modulates apoptosis of ovarian cancer cells, and to identify the signal pathway by which celecoxib mediates apoptosis.

Materials and methods: OVCAR-3 cells were exposed to paclitaxel (20 µM) in the absence or presence of celecoxib (10 µM). Cell viability was evaluated using a Cell Counting Kit-8 assay. Apoptosis was evaluated using Annexin-V/7-aminoactinomycin D staining and a cellular DNA fragmentation enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Caspase-3, -9, and cleavage of poly ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP) were determined by western blotting. Expression of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and Akt activation were assessed using reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction and western blotting.

Results: Celecoxib enhanced paclitaxel-induced growth inhibition of OVCAR-3 cells. Celecoxib significantly increased paclitaxel-induced apoptosis of OVCAR-3 cells. Pretreatment with celecoxib also increased activation of caspase-9, -3 and cleaved PARP following paclitaxel-treatment. Exposure of OVCAR-3 cells to celecoxib in combination with paclitaxel resulted in downregulation of NF-κB activation and VEGF expression. Furthermore, combining celecoxib and paclitaxel inhibited phosphorylation of Akt.

Conclusion: OVCAR-3 cells were sensitized to paclitaxel-induced apoptosis by celecoxib through downregulation of NF-κB and Akt activation, suggesting that celecoxib may work synergistically with paclitaxel to inhibit different targets and ultimately produce anticancer effects. Combining celecoxib with paclitaxel may prove beneficial in the clinical treatment of ovarian cancer.

Keywords: Akt; Apoptosis; Celecoxib; NF-kappa B; Ovarian neoplasms; Paclitaxel.