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Clin Cancer Res. 2005 Oct 15;11(20):7362-8.

Cyclooxygenase-2 is an independent prognostic factor in gastric cancer and its expression is regulated by the messenger RNA stability factor HuR.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Finland.



Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) promotes carcinogenesis and its expression associates with clinicopathologic characteristics in gastric cancer. HuR is an mRNA binding protein that controls the stability of certain transcripts including COX-2. We evaluated the prognostic significance of COX-2 and HuR expressions in gastric cancer and whether there exists a link between HuR and COX-2 expressions.


The study included 342 consecutive patients with histologically confirmed gastric adenocarcinoma, of whom 321 patients had tissue specimens available for COX-2 and 316 for HuR immunohistochemistry. Specimens were stained by COX-2- and HuR-specific monoclonal antibodies and scored by two independent observers. Correlation to clinical data and survival was assessed. TMK-1 gastric adenocarcinoma cells were treated with small interfering RNA against HuR and expressions of HuR and COX-2 were detected by immunofluorescence and Western blot analysis.


Patients with low COX-2 expression had a cumulative 5-year survival of 53% and those with high COX-2 expression had 16% (P < 0.0001). In multivariate analysis, COX-2 was an independent prognostic factor (P = 0.003). Cytoplasmic HuR expression was associated with high COX-2 expression (P < 0.0001) and with reduced survival (P = 0.004) whereas nuclear positivity for HuR was not. When TMK-1 cells were treated with HuR small interfering RNA, expressions of HuR and COX-2 were reduced.


High COX-2 is an independent prognostic factor in gastric cancer. Cytoplasmic expression of HuR associates with high COX-2 expression and with reduced survival, and tissue culture experiments show that HuR can regulate expression of COX-2 in gastric cancer cells.

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