Analysis of cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) expression during malignant melanoma progression

Anne Christine Goulet, Janine G. Einsphar, David S. Alberts, Anthony Beas, Cynthia Burk, Achyut Bhattacharyya, Jerry Bangert, Janet M. Harmon, Hideji Fujiwara, Alane Koki, Mark A. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) is an inducible enzyme involved in the production of prostaglandins and thromboxanes during inflammation. There are now several lines of evidence indicating that increased expression of COX-2 plays a functional role in the development and progression of malignant epithelial cancers. However, there is only limited data regarding the role of COX-2 in melanoma pathogenesis. In the present work, we retrospectively examined lesions through out the development of melanoma and metastatic disease (dysplastic nevi n = 10, melanoma in situ n = 4, stage II melanoma n = 10, stage III n = 4, stage IV n = 3, stage V n = 2, melanoma metastasis lymph nodes n = 13 metastasis to other sites n = 3). COX-2 was consistently observed in keratinocytes, dermal fibroblasts, and inflammatory cells in regions adjacent to benign evi and primary cutaneous melanomas. However, no COX-2 staining was detected in the nevi nor in the primary skin melanoma cells. In addition, COX-2 was undetected in all vertical and radial growth phase cases Interestingly, 13 out of 13 of the lymph node metastasis expressed extremely high levels of COX-2 in overlying epithelium and inflammatory cells, and COX-2 was strongly detected in the metastatic cancer cells per se. For additional information on the expression of COX-2 in malignant melanoma, we determined the expression of COX-2 protein in several different melanoma cell lines. We found that 3We found that 5 out of 7 of the melanoma cells over expressed COX-2 compared to normal melanocytes. Collectively, these data suggest that COX-2 may play a functional role in metastases of melanoma, and treatment with COX-2 inhibitors may be efficacious for malignant melanoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)713-718
Number of pages6
JournalCancer Biology and Therapy
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2003


  • Arachidonic acid
  • Cyclooxygenase-2
  • Eicosanoids
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Melanoma
  • Prostaglandins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Oncology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Analysis of cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) expression during malignant melanoma progression'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this