NSAIDs may thwart cancer metastasis

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Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), the commonly used over-the-counter agents, were shown to inhibit tumor metastasis into lymph nodes in a recent study.

Lymphangiogenic growth factor VEGF-D promotes cancer spread by means of the lymphatic system, a crucial step in metastasis. In investigating how lymphatic vessels are altered during VEGF-D-driven tumor metastasis, a team led by Steven A. Stacker, associate professor at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, Australia, identified a link between VEGF-D signaling and prostaglandin pathways.

Stacker and colleagues found that in VEGF-D-driven tumor spread, VEGF-D modulates prostaglandin levels to regulate lymphatic vessel dilation. NSAIDs, which are known inhibitors of prostaglandin synthesis, reduced lymphatic vessel dilation and, therefore, inhibited tumor metastasis.

“This key interaction between lymphangiogenic factors and prostaglandins reveals a mechanism for preparing collecting vessels for tumor cell dissemination, and a mechanism by which NSAIDs reduce lymphogenous metastasis,” wrote the researchers in Cancer Cell (2012;21:181-195). “Collecting lymphatic vessels may therefore constitute a therapeutic target for prevention and treatment of metastatic disease.”

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