Targeting the EP1 receptor reduces Fas ligand expression and increases the antitumor immune response in an in vivo model of colon cancer


Correspondence to: Aileen Houston, Department of Medicine, University College Cork, Clinical Sciences Building, Cork University Hospital, Cork, Ireland, Fax: +353-21-4345300, E-mail:


Despite studies demonstrating that inhibition of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2)-derived prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) has significant chemotherapeutic benefits in vitro and in vivo, inhibition of COX enzymes is associated with serious gastrointestinal and cardiovascular side effects, limiting the clinical utility of these drugs. PGE2 signals through four different receptors (EP1–EP4) and targeting individual receptor(s) may avoid these side effects, while retaining significant anticancer benefits. Here, we show that targeted inhibition of the EP1 receptor in the tumor cells and the tumor microenvironment resulted in the significant inhibition of tumor growth in vivo. Both dietary administration and direct injection of the EP1 receptor-specific antagonist, ONO-8713, effectively reduced the growth of established CT26 tumors in BALB/c mice, with suppression of the EP1 receptor in the tumor cells alone less effective in reducing tumor growth. This antitumor effect was associated with reduced Fas ligand expression and attenuated tumor-induced immune suppression. In particular, tumor infiltration by CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ regulatory T cells was decreased, whereas the cytotoxic activity of isolated splenocytes against CT26 cells was increased. F4/80+ macrophage infiltration was also decreased; however, there was no change in macrophage phenotype. These findings suggest that the EP1 receptor represents a potential target for the treatment of colon cancer.