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Clin Cancer Res. 2004 Dec 1;10(23):8037-47.

Inhibition of cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 expression by Tet-inducible COX-2 antisense cDNA in hormone-refractory prostate cancer significantly slows tumor growth and improves efficacy of chemotherapeutic drugs.

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  • 1Department of Urology and Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, Florida 33101, USA.



Overexpression of the proinflammatory enzyme cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 is associated with the progression of various malignancies; the role of COX-2 in prostate cancer is less clear. The significance of COX-2 in prostate cancer growth and response to chemotherapy was investigated in an androgen-refractory prostate cancer cell line using a Tet-inducible antisense COX-2 expression system.


An antisense COX-2 cDNA construct under the control of a doxycycline-inducible promoter was transfected into a prostate cancer cell line, PC-3ML. Modulations of cell growth, apoptosis, and chemosensitivity in the presence or absence of doxycycline were analyzed. Tumor incidence, growth rate, and response to two cytotoxic drugs, COL-3 [chemically modified tetracycline-3-(6-demethyl-6-deoxy-4-dedimethylamino-tetracycline)] and Taxotere (docetaxel), were investigated in tumor xenografts. Apoptotic incidences and tumor microvessel density in tumors were determined by immunohistochemistry.


Conditional suppression of COX-2 in PC-3ML caused reduced cell proliferation, decreased levels of phosphorylated AKT, G(0)-G(1) arrest, and increased apoptosis and caspase-3 activity. Suppression of COX-2 increased Bax protein and decreased Bcl-x(L) protein in vitro. COX-2 antisense-expressing PC-3ML tumors showed a 57% growth delay compared with nontransfected or vector controls. Oral administration of COL-3 (40 mg/kg, oral gavage) or Taxotere (2.3 mg/kg, intraperitoneally; 3x per week) in tumor-bearing mice further slowed tumor growth (65% and approximately 94%, respectively). Compared with the control group, the occurrence of apoptosis in antisense COX-2 tumors was eight times higher, and the tumor microvessel density was three times lower.


These results provide direct evidence that constitutive expression of COX-2 in prostate cancer has both angiogenic and cytoprotective functions. Suppression of tumor cell COX-2 is sufficient to enhance chemotherapy response in prostate cancer.

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