Co-targeting c-Met and COX-2 leads to enhanced inhibition of lung tumorigenesis in a murine model with heightened airway HGF

Laura P. Stabile, Mary E. Rothstein, Christopher T. Gubish, Diana E. Cunningham, Nathan Lee, Jill M. Siegfried

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: The hepatocyte growth factor (HGF)/c-Met pathway is often dysregulated in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). HGF activation of c-Met induces cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), resulting in downstream stimulation by prostaglandin E2 of additional pathways. Targeting both c-Met and COX-2 might lead to enhanced antitumor effects by blocking signaling upstream and downstream of c-Met. METHODS: Effects of crizotinib or celecoxib alone or in combination were tested in NSCLC cells in vitro and in mice transgenic for airway expression of human HGF. RESULTS: Proliferation and invasion of NSCLC cells treated with a combination of crizotinib and celecoxib were significantly lower compared with single treatments. Transgenic mice showed enhanced COX-2 expression localized to preneoplastic areas following exposure to the tobacco carcinogen 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone, which was not present without carcinogen exposure. This shows that COX-2 activity is present during lung tumor development in a high HGF environment. After 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3- pyridyl)-1-butanone treatment, a significant decrease in the number of lung tumors per animal was observed after 13-week treatments of crizotinib, celecoxib, or the combination compared with placebo (p < 0.001). With combination treatment, the number of tumors was also significantly lower than single agent treatment (p < 0.001). In the resulting lung tumors, P-c-Met, COX-2, prostaglandin E2, and P-MAPK were significantly downmodulated by combination treatment compared with single treatment. Expression of the epithelial-mesenchymal transition markers E-cadherin and snail was also modulated by combination treatment. CONCLUSIONS: In the presence of high HGF, dual inhibition of c-Met and COX-2 may enhance antitumor effects. This combination may have clinical potential in NSCLCs with high HGF/c-Met expression or epithelial-mesenchymal transition phenotype.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1285-1293
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Thoracic Oncology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Disclosure: Supported by NCI R01 CA79882 to J.M.S. and NCI SPORE in Lung Cancer P50 CA090440 to J.M.S. This research used the Animal Facility and Biostatistics Facility of the UPCI, which were supported by the UPCI Cancer Center Support Grant P30 CA047904. All other authors declare no conflicts of interest.


  • COX-2
  • Celecoxib
  • Crizotinib
  • HGF
  • Lung cancer
  • c-Met


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