Aspirin inhibits cancer stem cells properties and growth of glioblastoma multiforme through Rb1 pathway modulation

J Cell Physiol. 2019 Sep;234(9):15459-15471. doi: 10.1002/jcp.28194. Epub 2019 Jan 30.


Several clinical studies indicated that the daily use of aspirin or acetylsalicylic acid reduces the cancer risk via cyclooxygenases (Cox-1 and Cox-2) inhibition. In addition, aspirin-induced Cox-dependent and -independent antitumor effects have also been described. Here we report, for the first time, that aspirin treatment of human glioblastoma cancer (GBM) stem cells, a small population responsible for tumor progression and recurrence, is associated with reduced cell proliferation and motility. Aspirin did not interfere with cell viability but induced cell-cycle arrest. Exogenous prostaglandin E2 significantly increased cell proliferation but did not abrogate the aspirin-mediated growth inhibition, suggesting a Cox-independent mechanism. These effects appear to be mediated by the increase of p21 waf1 and p27 Kip1 , associated with a reduction of Cyclin D1 and Rb1 protein phosphorylation, and involve the downregulation of key molecules responsible for tumor development, that is, Notch1, Sox2, Stat3, and Survivin. Our results support a possible role of aspirin as adjunctive therapy in the clinical management of GBM patients.

Keywords: CSC; Cox; GBM; Rb1; aspirin; stemness.