Cellular and organismal toxicity of the anti-cancer small molecule, tolfenamic acid: A pre-clinical evaluation

Umesh T. Sankpal, Chris M. Lee, Sarah F. Connelly, Omer Kayaleh, Don Eslin, Robert Sutphin, Steven Goodison, Lina Adwan, Nasser H. Zawia, Lenard M. Lichtenberger, Riyaz Basha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Background/Aims: The small molecule, Tolfenamic acid (TA) has shown anti-cancer activity in pre-clinical models and is currently in Phase I clinical trials at MD Anderson Cancer Center Orlando. Since specificity and toxicity are major concerns for investigational agents, we tested the effect of TA on specific targets, and assessed the cellular and organismal toxicity representing pre-clinical studies in cancer. Methods: Panc1, L3.6pl, and MiaPaCa-2 (pancreatic cancer), hTERT-HPNE(normal), and differentiated/un-differentiated SH-SY5Y (neuroblastoma) cells were treated with increasing concentrations of TA. Cell viability and effect on specific molecular targets, Sp1 and survivin were determined. Athymic nude mice were treated with vehicle or TA (50mg/kg, 3times/week for 6 weeks) and alterations in the growth pattern, hematocrit, and histopathology of gut, liver, and stomach were monitored. Results: TA treatment decreased cell proliferation and inhibited the expression of Sp1 and survivin in cancer cells while only subtle response was observed in normal (hTERT-HPNE) and differentiated SH-SY5Y cells. Mice studies revealed no effect on body weight and hematocrit. Furthermore, TA regimen did not cause signs of internal-bleeding or damage to vital tissues in mice. Conclusion: These results demonstrate that TA selectively inhibits malignant cell growth acting on specific targets and its chronic treatment did not cause apparent toxicity in nude mice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)675-686
Number of pages12
JournalCellular Physiology and Biochemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2013


  • Small molecule
  • Sp1
  • Survivin
  • Tolfenamic acid
  • Toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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