Cyclooxygenase-2 overexpression is a marker of poor prognosis in stage I non-small cell lung cancer
Clinical Cancer Research
Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), the enzyme that converts arachidonic acid to prostaglandins, is overexpressed in a variety of different tumors, including those of the colon, pancreas, lung, and head and neck. We used in situ hybridization with a digoxgenin-labeled COX-2 antisense riboprobe to assess the presence of strong or intermediate versus weak or absent COX-2 expression in specimens from 160 patients with stage I non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Of these, 3 specimens had strong expression,
... had intermediate expression of COX-2, 24 had weak expression, and 64 had no detectable COX-2. The strength of COX-2 expression was associated with a worse overall survival rate (P = 0.001) and a worse disease-free survival rate (P = 0.022). The median survival times for the strong, intermediate or weak, and null COX-2 expressors were 1.04, 5.50, and 8.54 years, respectively. Interestingly, all three specimens with strong COX-2 expression came from patients who died within 18 months. Retinoic acid receptor beta (RAR-beta) is a nuclear retinoid receptor whose expression is frequently lost in aerodigestive tract carcinogenesis. We previously demonstrated that expression of RAR-beta in stage I NSCLC indicates a poor prognosis. Retinoids have been shown to prevent induction of COX-2 by mitogens and tumor promoters. Expression of COX-2 correlated with RAR-beta expression (P = 0.053), but not with k-ras mutational status, vascular endothelial growth factor, basic fibroblast growth factor, interleukin 8 levels, or other markers of angiogenesis, invasion, and metastases. Thus, like RAR-beta positivity, COX-2 overexpression appears to portend a shorter survival among patients with early stage non-small cell lung cancer. Future studies of RAR-beta and COX-2 regulation in NSCLC should further the development of prevention and therapy interventions with retinoids and/or COX-2 antagonists in this patient population.