The R-enantiomer of ketorolac reduces ovarian cancer tumor burden in vivo. Academic Article uri icon


  • Rho-family GTPases, including Ras-related C3 botulinum toxin substrate 1 (Rac1) and cell division control protein 42 (Cdc42), are important modulators of cancer-relevant cell functions and are viewed as promising therapeutic targets. Based on high-throughput screening and cheminformatics we identified the R-enantiomer of an FDA-approved drug (ketorolac) as an inhibitor of Rac1 and Cdc42. The corresponding S-enantiomer is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) with selective activity against cyclooxygenases. We reported previously that R-ketorolac, but not the S-enantiomer, inhibited Rac1 and Cdc42-dependent downstream signaling, growth factor stimulated actin cytoskeleton rearrangements, cell adhesion, migration and invasion in ovarian cancer cell lines and patient-derived tumor cells.In this study we treated mice with R-ketorolac and measured engraftment of tumor cells to the omentum, tumor burden, and target GTPase activity. In order to gain insights into the actions of R-ketorolac, we also performed global RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) analysis on tumor samples.Treatment of mice with R-ketorolac decreased omental engraftment of ovarian tumor cells at 18 h post tumor cell injection and tumor burden after 2 weeks of tumor growth. R-ketorolac treatment inhibited tumor Rac1 and Cdc42 activity with little impact on mRNA or protein expression of these GTPase targets. RNA-seq analysis revealed that R-ketorolac decreased expression of genes in the HIF-1 signaling pathway. R-ketorolac treatment also reduced expression of additional genes associated with poor prognosis in ovarian cancer.These findings suggest that R-ketorolac may represent a novel therapeutic approach for ovarian cancer based on its pharmacologic activity as a Rac1 and Cdc42 inhibitor. R-ketorolac modulates relevant pathways and genes associated with disease progression and worse outcome.

publication date

  • January 2021