From epidemiology to treatment: Aspirin's prevention of brain and breast-cancer and cardioprotection may associate with its metabolite gentisic acid

Meric A. Altinoz*, Ilhan Elmaci, Salih Cengiz, Ebru Emekli-Alturfan, Aysel Ozpinar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Epidemiological studies indicate that aspirin consumption reduces the risk of tumors, which is especially relevant for colonic adenoma and carcinoma. Similar observations were made for glial brain tumors and breast cancers, yet the results are inconsistent. Gentisic acid (GA) is a minor catabolite of aspirin; yet humans carrying CYP2C9-variants incapable to catabolize aspirin to GA do not benefit from aspirin in prevention against colonic adenoma. GA blocks binding of Fibroblastic Growth Factor to its receptor and its sulphonate metabolite dobesilic acid blocks growth of C6 glioblastoma in vivo. GA is also an endogenously produced siderophore in mammalians for the transport of iron, a trace element which stimulates tumor growth and enhances anthracycline cardiotoxicity. Materials and Methods: In this study, we assessed whether GA exerts direct antitumor activity on C6 glioma cells in vitro (cytotoxicity, colony growth, 3H-thyrnidine labeling analysis of DNA synthesis); and whether it can modify growth of Ehrlich breast ascites carcinoma (EAC) and solid tumors (EST) in vivo. GA and antitumoral trace element selenium block 12-lipoxygenase activity and aspirin's paradoxical inflammatory effects are seen in selenium-deficient humans; thus, we also investigated antitumor interactions between GA and sodium selenite. Lastly, we evaluated whether GA could protect against doxorubicin cardiotoxicity due to its function to chelate iron. Results: Clinically achievable doses of GA blocked growth, colony formation and DNA synthesis of C6 glioma in vitro with high significance. GA enhanced the survival of EAC-bearing mice at a dosage of 0.4 mg/mice/day, in which 33% of the treated animals survived more than 3-weeks, when all untreated mice succumbed to their tumors. Selenium decreased EST volumes initially, yet increased tumor volumes at later stages in surviving mice. GA alone reduced solid tumor growth and did not modify selenite antineoplasticity initially, but blocked the late tumor-stimulating effects of selenite. Lastly, doxorubicin-induced cardiac myofibrillary and endothelial damage and hyalinization necrosis were attenuated with GA treatment. Conclusions: GA highly merits to be studied in further animal models as an anticancer and chemoprotective drug.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-39
Number of pages11
JournalChemico-Biological Interactions
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • Aspirin
  • Gentisic acid
  • Cancer chemoprevention
  • Cancer treatment
  • Selenium
  • Anthracycline cardiotoxicity

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