Aspirin delays mesothelioma growth by inhibiting HMGB1-mediated tumor progression

H. Yang, L. Pellegrini, A. Napolitano, C. Giorgi, S. Jube, A. Preti, C. J. Jennings, F. De Marchis, E. G. Flores, D. Larson, I. Pagano, M. Tanji, A. Powers, S. Kanodia, G. Gaudino, S. Pastorino, H. I. Pass, P. Pinton, M. E. Bianchi, M. Carbone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


High-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) is an inflammatory molecule that has a critical role in the initiation and progression of malignant mesothelioma (MM). Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid, ASA) is the most widely used nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug that reduces the incidence, metastatic potential and mortality of many inflammation-induced cancers. We hypothesized that ASA may exert anticancer properties in MM by abrogating the carcinogenic effects of HMGB1. Using HMGB1-secreting and -non-secreting human MM cell lines, we determined whether aspirin inhibited the hallmarks of HMGB1-induced MM cell growth in vitro and in vivo. Our data demonstrated that ASA and its metabolite, salicylic acid (SA), inhibit motility, migration, invasion and anchorageindependent colony formation of MM cells via a novel HMGB1-mediated mechanism. ASA/SA, at serum concentrations comparable to those achieved in humans taking therapeutic doses of aspirin, and BoxA, a specific inhibitor of HMGB1, markedly reduced MM growth in xenograft mice and significantly improved survival of treated animals. The effects of ASA and BoxA were cyclooxygenase-2 independent and were not additive, consistent with both acting via inhibition of HMGB1 activity. Our findings provide a rationale for the well documented, yet poorly understood antitumorigenic activity of aspirin, which we show proceeds via HMGB1 inhibition. Moreover, the use of BoxA appears to allow a more efficient HMGB1 targeting while eluding the known gastrointestinal side effects of ASA. Our findings are directly relevant to MM. Given the emerging importance of HMGB1 and its tumor-promoting functions in many cancer types, and of aspirin in cancer prevention and therapy, our investigation is poised to provide broadly applicable information.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1786
JournalCell Death and Disease
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 11 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Immunology
  • Cancer Research
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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