The up-regulation of the inducible form of cyclooxygenase (COX-2), a central enzyme in the prostaglandin (PG) biosynthetic pathway, occurs in many epithelial tumors and has been associated with tumor cell proliferation and angiogenesis. To better understand the role of COX-2 in skin tumor development, we generated transgenic mice that overexpress COX-2 under the control of the keratin 14 promoter. We previously reported (Cancer Res. 62: 2516, 2002) that these mice, referred to as keratin 14 (K14).COX2 mice, were unexpectedly very resistant to 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol 13-acetate (TPA) tumor promotion. The current studies were undertaken to determine the mechanism of this resistance and determine if it was restricted to TPA promotion. Transgenic and wild-type mice were subjected to a complete carcinogenesis protocol using 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA) only, as well as a two-stage protocol using DMBA plus an unrelated tumor promoter, anthralin. In addition, the responses of transgenic and wild-type mice to TPA in terms of induction of proliferation and various down-stream mediators were examined. The TPA resistance phenotype correlated with a reduced ability to induce ornithine decarboxylase, interleukin-1alpha, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha and a reduced proliferation response. This resistance phenotype appears to be restricted to phorbol ester promotion because K14.COX2 mice developed six times more tumors than wild-type mice when anthralin was used as the tumor promoter. Additionally, K14.COX2 mice treated only with DMBA developed approximately 3.5 times more tumors than wild-type mice, suggesting that PGs have intrinsic tumor promoting activity. We conclude that the role of PGs in skin tumorigenesis is context dependent.
Copyright 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.