ASA (acetylsalicylic acid) is an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug). ASA has gained attention as a potential chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic agent for several neoplasms. The aim of this study was to analyse the possible antitumoural effects of ASA in two erythroleukaemic cell lines, with or without the MDR (multidrug resistance) phenotype. The mechanism of action of different concentrations of ASA were compared in K562 (non-MDR) and Lucena (MDR) cells by analysing cell viability, apoptosis and necrosis, intracellular ROS (reactive oxygen species) formation and bcl-2, p53 and cox-2 gene expression. ASA inhibited the cellular proliferation or induced toxicity in K562 and Lucena cell lines, irrespective of the MDR phenotype. The ASA treatment provoked death by apoptosis and necrosis in K562 cells and only by necrosis in Lucena cells. ASA also showed antioxidant activity in both cell lines. The bcl-2, p53 and cox-2 genes in both cell lines treated with ASA seem to exhibit different patterns of expression. However, normal lymphocytes treated with the same ASA concentrations were more resistant than tumoral cells. The results of this work show that both cell lines responded to treatment with ASA, demonstrating a possible antitumoral and anti-MDR role for this drug.

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