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Cancer Res. 2001 Dec 15;61(24):8617-23.

Cyclooxygenase-2 is up-regulated in proliferative inflammatory atrophy of the prostate, but not in prostate carcinoma.

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  • 1Graduate Program of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21287, USA.


Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) is the inducible isoform of the rate-limiting enzymes that convert arachidonic acid to proinflammatory prostaglandins as well as a primary target for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Accumulating evidence suggests that up-regulation of COX-2 is associated with carcinogenesis in multiple organ systems including the large bowel, lung, breast, and prostate. In this report, we examine the expression of COX-2 protein and mRNA in prostate tissue containing various lesions and in prostate cancer cell lines. In the cell lines, LNCaP, DU145, PC-3, and TSU, COX-2 protein expression was undetectable under basal conditions but could be induced transiently by phorbol ester treatment in PC-3 and TSU cells, but not in DU145 and LNCaP cells. Immunohistochemical analysis of 144 human prostate cancer cases suggested that, in contrast to several previous reports, there was no consistent overexpression of COX-2 in established prostate cancer or high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia, as compared with adjacent normal prostate tissue. Positive staining was seen only in scattered cells (<1%) in both tumor and normal tissue regions but was much more consistently observed in areas of proliferative inflammatory atrophy, lesions that have been implicated in prostatic carcinogenesis. Staining was also seen at times in macrophages. Western blotting and quantitative RT-PCR analyses confirmed these patterns of expression. These results suggest that if nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are indeed chemopreventive and/or chemotherapeutic for prostate cancer, their effects are likely to be mediated by modulating COX-2 activity in non-PCa cells (either inflammatory cells or atrophic epithelial cells) or by affecting a COX-2-independent pathway.

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