15-hydroxyprostaglandin dehydrogenase (15-PGDH) catalyzes NAD(+)-linked oxidation of 15 (S)-hydroxyl group of prostaglandins and lipoxins and is the key enzyme responsible for the biological inactivation of these eicosanoids. The enzyme was found to be under-expressed as opposed to cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) being over-expressed in lung and other tumors. A549 human lung adenocarcinoma cells were used as a model system to study the role of 15-PGDH in lung tumorigenesis. Up-regulation of COX-2 expression by pro-inflammatory cytokines in A549 cells was accompanied by a down-regulation of 15-PGDH expression. Over-expression of COX-2 but not COX-1 by adenoviral-mediated approach also attenuated 15-PGDH expression. Similarly, over-expression of 15-PGDH by the same strategy inhibited IL-1beta-induced COX-2 expression. It appears that the expression of COX-2 and 15-PGDH is regulated reciprocally. Adenoviral-mediated transient over-expression of 15-PGDH in A549 cells resulted in apoptosis. Xenograft studies in nude mice also showed tumor suppression with cells transiently over-expressing 15-PGDH. However, cells stably over-expressing 15-PGDH generated tumors faster than those control cells. Examination of different clones of A549 cells stably expressing different levels of 15-PGDH indicated that the levels of 15-PGDH expression correlated positively with those of mesenchymal markers, and negatively with those of epithelial markers. It appears that the stable expression of 15-PGDH induces epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) which may account for the tumor promotion in xenograft studies. A number of anti-cancer agents, such as transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-beta1), glucocorticoids and some histone deacetylase inhibitors were found to induce 15-PGDH expression. These results suggest that tumor suppressive action of these agents may, in part, be related to their ability to induce 15-PGDH expression.