Research Papers:

A novel co-drug of aspirin and ursolic acid interrupts adhesion, invasion and migration of cancer cells to vascular endothelium via regulating EMT and EGFR-mediated signaling pathways: multiple targets for cancer metastasis prevention and treatment

Qiao Tang, Yajun Liu, Tao Li, Xiang Yang, Guirong Zheng, Hongning Chen, Lee Jia and Jingwei Shao _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:73114-73129. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.12232

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Qiao Tang1,2, Yajun Liu1,2, Tao Li1,2, Xiang Yang1,2, Guirong Zheng1,2, Hongning Chen1,2, Lee Jia1,2, Jingwei Shao1,2

1Cancer Metastasis Alert and Prevention Center, Pharmaceutical Photocatalysis of State Key Laboratory of Photocatalysis on Energy and Environment, College of Chemistry, Fuzhou University, Fuzhou, China

2Fujian Provincial Key Laboratory of Cancer Metastasis Chemoprevention, Fuzhou University, Fuzhou, China

Correspondence to:

Jingwei Shao, email: [email protected], [email protected]

Keywords: cancer metastatic chemoprevention, ursolic acid, aspirin, EMT, EGFR

Received: May 27, 2016     Accepted: September 16, 2016     Published: September 24, 2016


Metastasis currently remains the predominant cause of breast carcinoma treatment failure. The effective targeting of metastasis-related-pathways in cancer holds promise for a new generation of therapeutics. In this study, we developed an novel Asp-UA conjugate, which was composed of classical “old drug” aspirin and low toxicity natural product ursolic acid for targeting breast cancer metastasis. Our results showed that Asp-UA could attenuate the adhesion, migration and invasion of breast cancer MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cells in a more safe and effective manner in vitro. Molecular and cellular study demonstrated that Asp-UA significantly down-regulated the expression of cell adhesion and invasion molecules including integrin α6β1, CD44 ,MMP-2, MMP-9, COX-2, EGFR and ERK proteins, and up-regulated the epithelial markers “E-cadherin” and “β-catenin”, and PTEN proteins. Furthermore, Asp-UA (80 mg/kg) reduced lung metastasis in a 4T1 murine breast cancer metastasis model more efficiently, which was associated with a decrease in the expression of CD44. More importantly, we did not detect side effects with Asp-UA in mice such as weight loss and main viscera tissues toxicity. Overall, our research suggested that co-drug Asp-UA possessed potential metastasis chemoprevention abilities via influencing EMT and EGFR-mediated pathways and could be a more promising drug candidate for the prevention and/or treatment of breast cancer metastasis.

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