Effect of azoxymethane and curcumin on transcriptional levels of cyclooxygenase-1 and -2 during initiation of colon carcinogenesis

Youngjoo Kwon, Bernadene A. Magnuson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background. Curcumin is well documented as an effective colonic chemopreventive agent in preclinical studies. Inhibition of arachidonic acid metabolism has been considered one of anticarcinogenic mechanisms of curcumin. We recently reported resistance of middle-aged F344 male rats to inhibition of azoxymethane (AOM)-induced colonic aberrant crypt foci (ACF) by curcumin (Nutr Cancer, 48, 37-43). It was important to confirm this finding and to find potential mechanisms responsible, as loss of preventive activity of curcumin due to aging was a novel finding, with important implications for human intervention trials. Methods. To confirm our previous findings, and investigate arachidonic acid metabolism as a potential mechanism of age-related differences in response to curcumin, middle-aged F344 male rats were given AOM injections after being fed their experimental diets, 0.6% curcumin or control diet. Colonic ACF were evaluated and colonic levels of cyclooxygenase (COX)-1 and 2 mRNA and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) were measured. Next, we investigated the short-term effect of AOM and curcumin on arachidonic acid metabolism in young rats. Six week-old rats were given injections of either AOM or untreated following their experimental diets. Colonic COX-1 and COX-2 mRNA as well as PGE2 levels were measured shortly after AOM treatment. Lastly, three different ages of F344 rats were treated with either AOM or saline, and colonic COX-1 and COX-2 mRNA levels were measured shortly after the injections to find if aging alters the effect of AOM on COX mRNA expression. Results. In middle-aged rats, dietary curcumin did not reduce the number of ACF and surprisingly increased colonic levels of COX-2 mRNA. Colonic COX-2 and PGE2 levels were also significantly increased in young rats fed curcumin after AOM injections. Interestingly, AOM did not affect COX-2 but decreased COX-1 expression in all ages. Conclusions. Our study suggests that during initiation, AOM inhibits colonic COX-1 expression without affecting COX-2 and dietary curcumin may increase COX-2 expression to compensate AOM-induced reduction of COX-1 expression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-80
Number of pages9
JournalScandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by a grant to BM from the Joint Institute of Food Safety And Nutrition (JIF-SAN). Authors thank Lee Unangst for technical support.


  • Aberrant crypt foci
  • Azoxymethane
  • Curcumin
  • Cyclooxygenase-1
  • Cyclooxygenase-2
  • Prostaglandin E2


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