Cyclooxygenase-2 expression and relationship to tumour progression in human renal cell carcinoma


Shuntaro Hara PhD, Department of Public Health, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Kitasato University, 5-9-1 Shirokane, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-8641, Japan. e-mail:


Aims:  Cyclooxygenase (COX), which catalyses the synthesis of prostaglandins from arachidonic acid, has two isoforms; COX-1 and COX-2. There is ample evidence to suggest an important role for COX-2 in cancer. The aim of this study was to evaluate the clinical significance of COX-2 expression and its localization in the development and progression of human renal cell carcinoma (RCC).

Methods and results:  The expression and localization of COX-2 were evaluated in human RCC tissues from 75 patients by immunohistochemistry. Immunoreactive COX-2 protein was observed in all cases of RCC, and the levels of COX-2 expression were correlated with tumour grade and pathological stage. Expression of COX-2 was higher in the granular cell subtype than in the clear cell subtype of RCC. Immunoelectron microscopy revealed that COX-2 was expressed in the nuclear membrane, rough endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi complex and mitochondrial membrane of RCC cells.

Conclusion:  COX-2 overexpression within these intracellular organelles in RCC may be associated with renal cell carcinogenesis and COX-2 may be a useful biomarker in RCC.