Indomethacin Disrupts Autophagic Flux by Inducing Lysosomal Dysfunction in Gastric Cancer Cells and Increases Their Sensitivity to Cytotoxic Drugs

Sci Rep. 2018 Feb 26;8(1):3593. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-21455-1.


NSAIDs inhibit tumorigenesis in gastrointestinal tissues and have been proposed as coadjuvant agents to chemotherapy. The ability of cancer epithelial cells to adapt to the tumour environment and to resist cytotoxic agents seems to depend on rescue mechanisms such as autophagy. In the present study we aimed to determine whether an NSAID with sensitizing properties such as indomethacin modulates autophagy in gastric cancer epithelial cells. We observed that indomethacin causes lysosomal dysfunction in AGS cells and promotes the accumulation of autophagy substrates without altering mTOR activity. Indomethacin enhanced the inhibitory effects of the lysosomotropic agent chloroquine on lysosome activity and autophagy, but lacked any effect when both functions were maximally reduced with another lysosome inhibitor (bafilomycin B1). Indomethacin, alone and in combination with chloroquine, also hindered the autophagic flux stimulated by the antineoplastic drug oxaliplatin and enhanced its toxic effect, increasing the rate of apoptosis/necrosis and undermining cell viability. In summary, our results indicate that indomethacin disrupts autophagic flux by disturbing the normal functioning of lysosomes and, by doing so, increases the sensitivity of gastric cancer cells to cytotoxic agents, an effect that could be used to overcome cancer cell resistance to antineoplastic regimes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / physiopathology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Autophagy / drug effects*
  • Cell Death / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Chloroquine / metabolism
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / drug effects*
  • Drug Synergism
  • Humans
  • Indomethacin / pharmacology*
  • Lysosomes / drug effects*
  • Lysosomes / metabolism
  • Macrolides / metabolism
  • Oxaliplatin / pharmacology*
  • Stomach Neoplasms / physiopathology*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Macrolides
  • Oxaliplatin
  • Chloroquine
  • bafilomycin B1
  • Indomethacin