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Cancer Res. 2000 Sep 1;60(17):4926-31.

Expression of cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) in human glioma and in vitro inhibition by a specific COX-2 inhibitor, NS-398.

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Brain Tumor Research Center, Brigham and Women's Hospital, The Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


The up-regulation of cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) expression is a frequent occurrence in a variety of different tumors. In this study, COX-2 protein expression was investigated in 50 glioma and 3 normal brain specimens by immunohistochemistry. Expression of COX-2 protein was observed in all normal brain and glioma specimens by immunohistochemistry, regardless of histological grade. The immunoreactive score was significantly higher in high-grade glioma than low-grade glioma and normal brain specimens. For a subset of these tumors (nine gliomas and three normal brain), Western blot analysis was also performed. COX-2 protein was detected in all specimens by Western blot analysis. The effect of the specific COX-2 inhibitor NS-398 on monolayer cell cultures and three-dimensional glioma spheroids was investigated using U-87MG and U-251MG human glioblastoma cell lines. The proliferation rate was assessed in monolayer cultures. In addition, a growth assay, a migration assay, an apoptosis assay, and a tumor invasion assay were performed in a three-dimensional spheroid culture system. NS-398 was able to reduce the proliferation of monolayer cell cultures, as well as the growth of spheroids and tumor cell migration, in a dose-dependent manner. There was also a moderate increase in the number of apoptotic cells in the treated spheroids. NS-398 did not have an inhibitory effect on tumor invasion in the coculture spheroid system. Our study provides evidence that COX-2 is up-regulated in the majority of high-grade gliomas and that a potential role of COX-2 inhibitors as an adjuvant therapy for brain tumors may exist.

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