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Selenium and sulindac are synergistic to inhibit intestinal tumorigenesis in Apc/p21 mice

Xiuli Bi12, Nicole Pohl2, Huali Dong3 and Wancai Yang24*

Author Affiliations

1 School of Life Sciences, Liaoning University, Shenyang, 110036, China

2 Department of Pathology, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, 60612, USA

3 Cancer Center, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, 60612, USA

4 Department of Pathology, Xinxiang Medical University, 601 East Jinsui Dadao, Xinxiang, Henan, 453003, China

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Journal of Hematology & Oncology 2013, 6:8  doi:10.1186/1756-8722-6-8

Published: 17 January 2013



Both selenium and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) sulindac are effective in cancer prevention, but their effects are affected by several factors including epigenetic alterations and gene expression. The current study was designed to determine the effects of the combination of selenium and sulindac on tumor inhibition and the underlying mechanisms.


We fed the intestinal tumor model Apc/p21 mice with selenium- and sulindac-supplemented diet for 24 weeks, and found that the combination of selenium and sulindac significantly inhibited intestinal tumorigenesis, in terms of reducing tumor incidence by 52% and tumor multiplicities by 80% (p<0.01). Mechanistic studies revealed that the combination of selenium and sulindac led to the significant induction of the expression of p27 and p53 and JNK1 phosphorylation, and led to the suppression of β-catenin and its downstream targets. Impressively, the data also showed that demythelation on p21 promoter was associated with tumor inhibition by the combination of selenium and sulindac.


The selenium is synergistic with sulindac to exert maximal effects on tumor inhibition. This finding provides an important chemopreventive strategy using combination of anti-cancer agents, which has a great impact on cancer prevention and has a promising translational potential.

Selenium; Sulindac; Cancer prevention; Methylation; Wnt/β-catenin