COX-2 expressed at high levels in pancreatic tumors; inhibitors block growth

Last Modified: November 1, 2001

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Last Updated: 2001-01-29 13:30:17 EST (Reuters Health) - Over half of pancreatic tumors express cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), Japanese researchers report. In addition, COX-2 inhibitors can inhibit the growth of pancreatic cancer cells in vitro.

Dr. Hitoshi Kondo, from National Cancer Center Hospital in Tokyo, and colleagues examined COX-2 expression in 42 human pancreatic duct cell carcinomas and 29 intraductal papillary mucinous tumors (IPMTs), of which 19 were adenomas and 10 were carcinomas.

As they report in the January 15th issue of Cancer, 57% of pancreatic duct cell carcinomas, 58% of IPMT adenomas, and 70% of IPMT carcinomas expressed COX-2 by immunohistochemical staining. "However, there was no correlation between COX-2 expression and clinicopathologic indices of the patients," the researchers write.

They note that the protein was expressed at high levels in IPMT adenomas and carcinomas, "suggesting that this protein may contribute to an early stage of pancreatic carcinogenesis."

The researchers also investigated the effect of the COX-2 inhibitors aspirin and etodolac on the growth of four pancreatic cancer cell lines, of which two expressed COX-2 weakly and two expressed the protein strongly. Both drugs inhibited the growth of the cells.

"Although the reason remains unclear, there was a negative correlation between the intensity of COX-2 expression and the 50% inhibitory concentration of aspirin but not of etodolac," the authors write. They conclude that COX inhibitors are "possible preventive agents against pancreatic neoplasms."

Reference

  • Cancer 2001;91:333-338. (Abstract not available online at time of posting.)