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J Natl Cancer Inst. 1998 Nov 4;90(21):1609-20.

Cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors in tumorigenesis (Part II).

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  • 1Laboratory of Biomedical Genetics, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Tokyo, Bunkyo, Japan.


The rate-limiting step in arachidonate metabolism is mediated by enzymes known as cyclooxygenases (COXs). These enzymes catalyze the biosynthesis of prostaglandin H2, the precursor of molecules such as prostaglandins, prostacyclin, and thromboxanes. The COX enzyme family consists of the classical COX-1 enzyme, which is constitutively expressed in many tissues, and a second isozyme, i.e., COX-2, which is induced by various stimuli, such as mitogens and cytokines, and is involved in many inflammatory reactions. Because nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) inhibit both COX-1 and COX-2, these drugs also cause unwanted side effects, exemplified by gastrointestinal bleeding. Accumulating evidence indicates that NSAIDs can reduce the incidence of colorectal cancers in human and experimental animals and can reduce the number and size of polyps in patients with familial adenomatous polyposis. This Part II (of a two-part review) focuses on the growing clinical and experimental evidence that NSAIDS and COX-2 inhibitors can influence the risk of colon (and possibly of other) cancers.

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