Arachidonoyl-ethanolamide activates endoplasmic reticulum stress-apoptosis in tumorigenic keratinocytes: Role of cyclooxygenase-2 and novel J-series prostamides

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Abstract

Non-melanoma skin cancer and other epithelial tumors overexpress cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), differentiating them from normal cells. COX-2 metabolizes arachidonic acid to prostaglandins including, the J-series prostaglandins, which induce apoptosis by mechanisms including endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. Arachidonoyl-ethanolamide (AEA) is a cannabinoid that causes apoptosis in diverse tumor types. Previous studies from our group demonstrated that AEA was metabolized by COX-2 to J-series prostaglandins. Thus, the current study examines the role of COX-2, J-series prostaglandins, and ER stress in AEA-induced apoptosis. In tumorigenic keratinocytes that overexpress COX-2, AEA activated the PKR-like ER kinase (PERK), inositol requiring kinase-1 (IRE1), and activating transcription factor-6 (ATF6) ER stress pathways and the ER stress apoptosis-associated proteins, C/EBP homologous protein-10 (CHOP10), caspase-12, and caspase-3. Using an ER stress inhibitor, it was determined that ER stress was required for AEA-induced apoptosis. To evaluate the role of COX-2 in ER stress-apoptosis, HaCaT keratinocytes with low endogenous COX-2 expression were transfected with COX-2 cDNA or an empty vector and AEA-induced ER stress-apoptosis occurred only in the presence of COX-2. Moreover, LC-MS analysis showed that the novel prostaglandins, 15-deoxyΔ12,14PGJ2-EA and Δ12PGJ2/PGJ2-EA, were synthesized from AEA. These findings suggest that AEA will be selectively toxic in tumor cells that overexpress COX-2 due to the metabolism of AEA by COX-2 to J-series prostaglandin-ethanolamides (prostamides). Hence, AEA may be an ideal topical agent for the elimination of malignancies that overexpress COX-2. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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