Aspirin inhibits cell viability and mTOR downstream signaling in gastroenteropancreatic and bronchopulmonary neuroendocrine tumor cells

Matilde Spampatti, George Vlotides, Gerald Spöttl, Julian Maurer, Burkhard Göke, Christoph J. Auernhammer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


AIM: To investigate the effect of aspirin on neuroendocrine tumor (NET) cell growth and signaling in vitro. METHODS: Human pancreatic BON1, bronchopulmonary NCI-H727 and midgut GOT1 neuroendocrine tumor cells were treated with different concentrations of aspirin (from 0.001 to 5 mmol/L), and the resulting effects on metabolic activity/cell proliferation were measured using cell proliferation assays and SYBR-DNAlabeling after 72, 144 and 216 h of incubation. The effects of aspirin on the expression and phosphorylation of several critical proteins that are involved in the most common intracellular growth factor signaling pathways (especially Akt protein kinase B) and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) were determined by Western blot analyses. Propidium iodide staining and flow cytometry were used to evaluate changes in cell cycle distribution and apoptosis. Statistical analysis was performed using a 2-tailed Student's t -test to evaluate the proliferation assays and cell cycle analyses. The results are expressed as the mean ± SD of 3 or 4 independently performed experiments. Statistical significance was set at P <0.05. RESULTS: Treatment with aspirin suppressed the viability/proliferation of BON1, NCI-H727 and GOT1 cells in a time- and dose-dependent manner. Significant effects were observed at starting doses of 0.5-1 mmol/L and peaked at 5 mmol/L. For instance, after treatment with 1 mmol/L aspirin for 144 h, the viability of pancreatic BON1 cells decreased to 66% ± 13% (P <0.05), the viability of bronchopulmonary NCI-H727 cells decreased to 53% ± 8% (P <0.01) and the viability of midgut GOT1 cells decreased to 89% ± 6% (P <0.01). These effects were associated with a decreased entry into the S phase, the induction of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21 and reduced expression of cyclin-dependent kinase 4 and cyclin D3. Aspirin suppressed mTOR downstream signaling, evidenced by the reduced phosphorylation of the mTOR substrates 4E binding protein 1, serine/threonine kinase P70S6K and S6 ribosomal protein and inhibited glycogen synthase kinase 3 activity. We observed the (compensatory) activation of tuberous sclerosis 2, the serine/threonine specific protein kinase AKT and extracellular signal-regulated kinases. CONCLUSION: Aspirin demonstrates promising anticancer properties for NETs in vitro. Further preclinical and clinical studies are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10038-10049
Number of pages12
JournalWorld Journal of Gastroenterology
Issue number29
Publication statusPublished - Aug 7 2014


  • Aspirin
  • Cell viability
  • Mammalian target of rapamycin protein
  • Neuroendocrine tumors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology
  • Medicine(all)


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