The nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agent (NSAID) naproxen triggers immune cells in the intestinal lining to fight colorectal cancer in people with Lynch syndrome, researchers reported in Gut.

Lynch syndrome, a genetic disorder also known as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer, greatly increases risk of colon and other cancers in individuals who carry one of the germline pathogenic variants associated with the disease. NSAIDs like naproxen have long been shown to have a protective effect against colon cancer because of their anti-inflammatory properties, and low-dose aspirin is often recommended for individuals with Lynch syndrome.

In the new study, researchers used mouse models to look at the use of naproxen in either low (220 mg) or high (440 mg) doses to identify a potential biomarker for measuring naproxen activity and to determine whether it had preventive superiority over aspirin. They found that both doses lowered prostaglandin levels, but the higher 440 mg dose also upregulated immune system genes and downregulated tumor genes.

“Naproxen should be considered a potential strategy for immune interception in patients with Lynch syndrome via activation of resident immune cells in the colorectal mucosa, thus having the potential to enhance the activity of vaccines to be developed for this disease,” the researchers wrote.

Learn more about Lynch syndrome with ONS Voice.