Background: Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) is thought to be linked to carcinogenesis; however, very little is known about its expression in pancreatic neoplasms. The authors studied the expression of COX-2 in human pancreatic neoplasms and investigated the effect of COX inhibitors on the growth of human pancreatic carcinoma cells.
Methods: Expression of COX-2 protein was immunohistochemically examined in 42 human pancreatic duct cell carcinomas (PDCs) and in 29 intraductal papillary mucinous tumors (IPMTs [adenomas, 19; carcinomas, 10]) of the pancreas that were resected surgically at the National Cancer Center Hospital in Tokyo. The growth of four human pancreatic carcinoma cell lines also was evaluated in the presence of COX inhibitors.
Results: Marked COX-2 expression was observed in 57% (24 of 42) of PDCs, in 58% (11 of 19) of adenomas, and in 70% (7 of 10) of adenocarcinomas of IPMTs. However, there was no correlation between COX-2 expression and clinicopathologic indices of the patients. All four pancreatic cancer cell lines expressed COX-2 protein weakly or strongly, and the inhibitory effect of aspirin on cell growth was correlated with the expression of COX-2.
Conclusions: COX-2 was expressed in adenomas of IPMTs as well as in carcinomas and might have played a role in the development of pancreatic tumors. In this study, COX inhibitors, as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, were shown to be possible preventive agents against pancreatic neoplasms.