MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small noncoding RNAs that function as endogenous silencers of target genes and play critical roles during carcinogenesis. The selective cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitor celecoxib has been highlighted as a potential drug for treatment of gastrointestinal tumors. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of miRNAs in gastric carcinogenesis and the feasibility of a new therapeutic approach for gastric cancer. miRNA expression profiles were examined in 53 gastric tumors including gastric adenomas (atypical epithelia), early gastric cancers and advanced gastric cancers and in gastric cancer cells treated with celecoxib. miRNA microarray analysis revealed that miR-29c was significantly downregulated in gastric cancer tissues relative to nontumor gastric mucosae. miR-29c was significantly activated by celecoxib in gastric cancer cells. Downregulation of miR-29c was associated with progression of gastric cancer and was more prominent in advanced gastric cancers than in gastric adenomas and early gastric cancer. In addition, expression of the oncogene Mcl-1, a target of miR-29c, was significantly increased in gastric cancer tissues relative to nontumor gastric mucosae. Activation of miR-29c by celecoxib induced suppression of Mcl-1 and apoptosis in gastric cancer cells. These results suggest that downregulation of the tumor suppressor miR-29c plays critical roles in the progression of gastric cancer. Selective COX-2 inhibitors may have clinical promise for the treatment of gastric cancer via restoration of miR-29c.
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