Cyclooxygenase-2 and gastric carcinogenesis


Ari Ristimäki, Molecular and Cancer Biology Research Program, Biomedicum Helsinki, Room B512b, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 63 (Haartmaninkatu 8), FIN-00014 Helsinki, Finland. e-mail:


Epidemiological studies have shown that the use of nonsteroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is associated with reduced risk of gastric cancer. The best-known target of NSAIDs is the cyclooxygenase (Cox) enzyme. Two Cox genes have been cloned, of which Cox-2 has been connected with gastric carcinogenesis. Expression of Cox-2 is elevated in gastric adenocarcinomas, which correlates with several clinicopathological parameters, including depth of invasion and lymph node metastasis. This suggests that Cox-2–derived prostanoids promote aggressive behavior of adenocarcinomas of the stomach. Cox-2 expression is especially prominent in intestinal-type gastric carcinoma and it is already present in dysplastic precursor lesions of this disease, which suggests that Cox-2 contributes to gastric carcinogenesis already at the preinvasive stage. Our most recent data show that Cox-2 is expressed in gastric adenomas of trefoil factor 1 deficient mice. Treatment of these mice with a Cox-2 selective inhibitor, celecoxib, reduced the size of the adenomas. Taken together these data support efforts to initiate clinical studies to investigate the effect of Cox-2 inhibitors as chemotherapeutic agents and as adjuvant treatment modalities against gastric neoplasias.