Combination of atorvastatin and celecoxib synergistically induces cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in colon cancer cells

Hang Xiao, Qiang Zhang, Yong Lin, Bandaru S. Reddy, Chung S. Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

88 Scopus citations


Previous studies in animal models have shown enhanced efficacy of a combined treatment of statins and Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs against colorectal cancer development. In our study, we investigated the combinational effects of atorvastatin and celecoxib in 2 human colon cancer cell lines HCT116 and HT29. Celecoxib moderately inhibited the growth of both cell lines with a similar IC50 of 40-50 μM, whereas atorvastatin showed stronger growth inhibitory effect in HCT116 cells than in HT29 cells (IC50 of 5-8 μM vs. 30-35 μM) after treatment for 48-72 hr. The combination of these 2 agents produced strong synergistic actions, as determined by isobologram analysis. Flow cytometry analysis indicated that the combination treatment for 24 hr caused extensive cell cycle arrest in G0/G1 phase; whereas at 48 hr or longer, apoptosis was induced significantly. The effects produced by the combination were much stronger than that by atorvastatin or celecoxib alone. Our results further demonstrated that the combinational effects of atorvastatin/celecoxib were associated with increased levels of p21 Cip1/Waf1, p27Kip1, and phospho-JNK; decreased levels of phospho-AKT and hyper-phosphorylated Rb; and activation of caspase cascade. Atorvastatin/celecoxib combination also selectively modified membrane localization of small G-proteins, such as RhoA, RhoB and RhoC, which may contribute to the anti-cancer effects. Taken together, the results demonstrated a strong synergy between the actions of atorvastatin and celecoxib in growth inhibition and killing of human colon cancer cells. The present work suggests the possible therapeutic application of this combination and provides leads for mechanistic and biomarker investigations in clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2115-2124
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


  • Atorvastatin
  • Celecoxib
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Combination
  • Rho
  • Synergy

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