Influence of COX-2 inhibition by rofecoxib on serum and tumor progastrin and gastrin levels and expression of PPARgamma and apoptosis-related proteins in gastric cancer patients.. Peter C Konturek; Stanislaw J Konturek; Wladyslaw Bielanski; J Kania; Monika Zuchowicz; Artur Hartwich; Jens F Rehfeld; Eckhart G Hahn (2003) Digestive diseases and sciences display abstract
Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) expression and certain growth hormones, such as gastrin, have been related to gastric carcinogenesis, but little is known about the factors that enhance this COX-2 expression and whether specific blockade of this enzyme has any influence on tumor growth and progression. Our objective was to determine the influence of a specific COX-2 inhibitor, rofecoxib (Vioxx), on serum and tumor levels of gastrin and its precursor, progastrin, as well as on tumor gene expression of COX-2, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARgamma), and apoptosis-related proteins (Bax and Bcl-2, caspase-3, and survivin). Twenty-four gastric cancer (GC) patients entered this study and were examined twice, once before and then following a 14-day treatment with Vioxx at a dose of 25 mg twice daily. For comparison, 48 age- and sex-matched healthy controls and 24 similarly matched Helicobacter pylori (Hp)-positive subjects were enrolled and treated with Vioxx as GC patients. Serum levels of anti-Hp and anti-CagA antibodies as well as IL-8 and TNF-alpha were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), while serum and tumor contents of progastrin and amidated gastrin were determined by specific RIA. Tumor gene and protein expressions of COX-2, PPARgamma, Bax and Bcl-2, caspase-3, and survivin were determined by RT-PCR and western blot. The overall Hp and CagA seropositivity in 24 GC patients was significantly higher (82% and 47%) than in 48 controls (61% and 22%) but not in 24 Hp-infected subjects (100% and 38%). Serum IL-8 and TNF-alpha values were significantly higher in GC patients than in controls without GC or Hp-infected controls. Median serum progastrin and gastrin levels were found to be significantly higher in GC than in controls without GC and in Hp-positive subjects. Treatment of GC patients with Vioxx resulted in a significant decrease in plasma and tumor contents of both progastrin and gastrin, and this was accompanied by the increment in tumor expression of COX-2, PPARy, Bax, and caspase-3 with a concomitant reduction in Bcl-2 and survivin expression. We conclude that: (1) GC patients show significantly higher Hp and CagA seropositivity than age- and sex-matched controls, but not Hp-positive subjects, indicating that infection with cytotoxic Hp is linked to GC. (2) Serum progastrin and gastrin levels are significantly higher in GC patients than in matched controls, confirming that both gastrins may be implicated in gastric carcinogenesis. (3) GC patients exhibit significantly higher levels of IL-8 and TNF-alpha than non-GC controls and Hp-positive subjects, probably reflecting more widespread gastritis in GC. (4) COX-2, PPARgamma, Bcl-2, and survivin were overexpressed in gastric tumor, but the inhibition of COX-2 activity by Vioxx resulted in a significant reduction in serum and tumor levels of progastrin and gastrin and serum IL-8 and TNF-alpha levels, suggesting that gastrin and proinflammatory cytokines could mediate the up-regulation of COX-2 in gastric cancerogenesis. (5) Vioxx also enhanced expression of COX-2, PPARy, Bax, and caspase-3, while inhibiting the expression of Bcl-2 and survivin, suggesting that COX-2 blockade might be useful in chemoprevention against gastric cancer possibly due to enhancement of the PPARy- and proapoptotic proteins-dependent apoptosis and the reduction in progastrin/gastrin-induced promotion of tumor growth.