Aims: To establish the prevalence of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) expression in a large series of resected Barrett's adenocarcinoma and associated preneoplastic lesions and to correlate this expression with clinicopathological data and prognosis.
Methods: COX-2 expression was assessed by immunohistochemistry in resected surgical specimens of 66 Barrett's adenocarcinomas and 32 cases of Barrett's mucosa (with dysplasia in 17 cases).
Results: Epithelial expression of COX-2 protein was increased in Barrett's mucosa compared with normal oesophagus. Epithelial expression of COX-2 was found in 91% of Barrett's specialized mucosa negative for dysplasia, 94% of Barrett's mucosa with dysplasia, and 97% of Barrett's adenocarcinoma. COX-2 expression was significantly higher in the well-differentiated adenocarcinomas when compared with the poorly differentiated tumours. There was no significant correlation between COX-2 expression and the other pathological features of the tumours. Survival analysis showed no significant prognostic value for COX-2.
Conclusion: Our results confirm up-regulation of COX-2 in Barrett's oesophagus-metaplastic and dysplastic-and in Barrett's adenocarcinoma. Increased COX-2 expression did not differ during the progression from Barrett's oesophagus negative for dysplasia to Barrett's adenocarcinoma and is related to adenocarcinoma whose histology is well differentiated. This suggests that enhanced expression of COX-2 may occur early during Barrett's-associated neoplastic transformation.