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Cancer Res. 2000 Mar 1;60(5):1326-31.

Preferential enhancement of tumor radioresponse by a cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitor.

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  • 1Department of Experimental Radiation Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston 77030-4095, USA.


Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), an inducible isoform of cyclooxygenase, is overexpressed in many types of malignant tumors, where it mediates production of prostaglandins (PGs), which in turn may stimulate tumor growth and protect against damage by cytotoxic agents. This study investigated whether SC-'236, a selective inhibitor of COX-2, potentiates antitumor efficacy of radiation without increasing radiation injury to normal tissue. Mice bearing the sarcoma FSA in the hind legs were treated daily for 10 days with SC-'236 (6 mg/kg given in the drinking water) when tumors were 6 mm in diameter. When tumors reached 8 mm in diameter, the mice were given 11- to 50-Gy single-dose local tumor irradiation with or without SC-'236. SC-'236 inhibited tumor growth on its own, and it greatly enhanced the effect of tumor irradiation. The growth delay was increased from 14.8 days after 25-Gy single dose to 28.4 days after the combined treatment (P = 0.01). SC-'236 reduced TCD50 (radiation dose yielding 50% tumor cure) from 39.2 Gy to 20.9 Gy (enhancement factor = 1.87). SC-'236 did not appreciably alter radiation damage to jejunal crypt cells and tissue involved in the development of radiation-induced leg contractures. The SC-'236-induced enhancement of tumor radioresponse was associated with a decrease in PGE2 levels in FSA tumors. The drug had no effect on radiation-induced apoptosis. Neoangiogenesis was inhibited by SC-'236, which could account for some of the increase in tumor radioresponse. Overall, our findings demonstrated that treatment with a selective inhibitor of COX-2 greatly enhanced tumor radioresponse without markedly affecting normal tissue radioresponse. Thus, COX-2 inhibitors have a high potential for increasing the therapeutic ratio of radiotherapy.

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