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Clin Cancer Res. 2004 Jan 15;10(2):538-45.

Elevated cyclooxygenase-2 expression is associated with altered expression of p53 and SMAD4, amplification of HER-2/neu, and poor outcome in serous ovarian carcinoma.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Molecular and Cancer Biology Research Program, Biomedicum Helsinki, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.



Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) is frequently expressed in human adenocarcinomas and inhibition of COX-2 suppresses tumor formation in various animal models of carcinogenesis. We analyzed expression of COX-2 protein in human serous ovarian carcinomas by immunohistochemistry (n = 442) and by Western blotting (n = 12) and COX-2 mRNA by reverse transcriptase PCR (n = 12). COX-2 immunoreactivity was correlated to clinicopathological variables and to expression of p53 and SMAD4 as detected by immunohistochemistry and to amplification of HER-2/neu as detected by in situ hybridization.


COX-2 mRNA expression was detected in 75% (9 of 12) and COX-2 protein in 42% (5 of 12) of the serous ovarian adenocarcinoma specimens as detected by reverse transcriptase-PCR and Western blot analysis, respectively. Moderate to strong (elevated) immunoreactivity for COX-2 was detected in 70% (310 of 442) of the tumors. Elevated COX-2 expression associated with reduced disease-specific survival (P = 0.0011), high histological grade (P < 0.0001), residual tumor size > 1 cm (P = 0.0111), and age > 57 years (P = 0.0099). Tumors with altered immunostaining pattern for p53 or SMAD4 expressed more frequently elevated levels of COX-2 when compared with the tumors with normal staining pattern of these tumor suppressor genes (P < 0.0001 and P = 0.0004, respectively). In addition, elevated COX-2 expression associated with amplification of HER-2/neu oncogene (P = 0.0479).


Our results suggest that elevated expression of COX-2 associates with reduced survival in serous ovarian carcinomas and that expression of COX-2 may be induced in these tumors by loss of tumor suppressor genes such as p53 and SMAD4 and by amplification of HER-2/neuoncogene.

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