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Clin Cancer Res. 2005 May 1;11(9):3363-8.

Intratumoral COX-2 gene expression is a predictive factor for colorectal cancer response to fluoropyrimidine-based chemotherapy.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Institute of Gastroenterology, Tokyo Women's Medical University, Tokyo, Japan.



Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) is generally elevated in tumors compared with normal tissue and apparently has an important role in tumor development. A number of studies have found high expression of COX-2 to be an unfavorable prognostic factor for overall survival in several cancers. However, the influence of COX-2 expression levels on tumor response to chemotherapy has been relatively little studied. The purpose of this study was to ascertain if COX-2 gene expression is associated with tumor response in the clinical treatment of colorectal cancer with the fluoropyrimidine-based therapy S-1.


Patients with advanced (stage IV) colorectal cancer were treated with S-1 twice daily based on the patient's body surface area (BSA; BSA < 1.25 m2, 80 mg/d; 1.25 m2 < or = BSA < 1.5 m2, 100 mg/d; BSA > or = 1.5 m2, 120 mg/d) for 28 days followed by a 2-week period rest. mRNA was isolated from paraffin-embedded pretreatment primary tumor specimens and expression levels of COX-2 relative to beta-actin as the internal reference gene were measured using a quantitative reverse transcription-PCR (Taqman) system.


The overall response rate in a group of 44 patients treated with S-1 was 40.9%. Sufficient tumor tissue was available from 40 of these patients for COX-2 mRNA quantitation. COX-2 gene expression was significantly lower in the responding tumors compared with the nonresponders (P = 0.012, Wilcoxon test). Patients with COX-2 values above the cutoff value of 3.28 x 10(-3) had a significantly shorter survival than those with COX-2 gene expressions below the cutoff value (adjusted P = 0.031).


Intratumoral COX-2 gene expression is associated with likelihood of response to chemotherapy with S-1 and is a prognostic factor for survival of patients after the start of S-1 chemotherapy.

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