Although early detection and treatment of colorectal cancer (CRC) have improved, it remains a significant health-care problem with high morbidity and mortality. Data indicate that long-term intake of low-dose aspirin reduces the risk of CRC; however, the mechanisms underlying this chemopreventive effect are still unclear. Different mouse models for inflammation-associated, sporadic, and hereditary CRC were applied to assess the efficacy and mechanism of low-dose aspirin on tumor prevention. An initial dosing study performed in healthy mice indicates that aspirin at a dose of 25 mg/kg/d has a similar pharmacodynamic effect as low-dose aspirin treatment in human subjects (100 mg/d). Chronic low-dose aspirin treatment suppresses colitis-associated and to a lesser extent spontaneous tumorigenesis in mice. Aspirin’s antitumor effect is most pronounced in a preventive approach when aspirin administration starts before the tumor-initiating genotoxic event and continues for the duration of the experiment. These effects are not associated with alterations in cell proliferation, apoptosis, or activation of signaling pathways involved in CRC. Aspirin-induced reduction in tumor burden is accompanied by inhibition of thromboxane B formation, indicating reduced platelet activation. Aspirin treatment also results in decreased colonic prostaglandin E formation and tumor angiogenesis. With respect to colitis-triggered tumorigenesis, aspirin administration is associated with a reduction in inflammatory activity in the colon, as indicated by decreased levels of pro-inflammatory mediators, and tumor-associated iNOS-positive macrophages. Our results suggest that low-dose aspirin represents an effective antitumor agent in the context of colon tumorigenesis primarily due to its well-established cyclooxygenase inhibition effects.
© 2020 The Authors. Cancer Medicine published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.