Cyclooxygenase-2 protein levels are independent of epidermal growth factor receptor expression or activation in operable non-small cell lung cancer
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UNLABELLED: Both cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) are thought to play important roles in the pathogenesis of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). A number of in vitro studies have postulated a link between EGFR activation and subsequent COX-2 upregulation. The relationship between these factors has not been established in patients with NSCLC. COX-2 and EGFR expression were studied in 172 NSCLC specimens using standard immunohistochemical techniques. Western blotting was used to determine COX-2 and EGFR levels in five NSCLC cell lines. The effect of treatment with EGF on COX-2 expression in A549 cells was assessed. RESULTS: Both EGFR and COX-2 are overexpressed in NSCLC. The predominant pattern of COX-2 and EGFR staining was cytoplasmic. Membranous EGFR staining was seen in 23.3% of cases. There was no relationship between COX-2 and EGFR expression and survival or any clinicopathological features. No correlation was seen between EGFR expression and COX-2 expression in the immunohistochemical series or in the cell lines. Treatment with EGF did not upregulate COX-2 levels in A549 cells, either in serum free or serum-supplemented conditions. CONCLUSIONS: Although COX-2 and EGFR are over-expressed in NSCLC neither was of prognostic significance in this series of cases. There is no correlation between these two factors in either tumour samples or cell lines. Although these factors show no correlation in NSCLC, they remain potential, though independent targets for treatment.
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