Objective: To assess the level and morphological distribution of cyclooxygenase (COX)-1 and -2 in human prostates and to determine any association with the Gleason grade of prostate cancer. Materials and methods: The study comprised 30 samples from patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and 82 with prostate cancer. Immunohistochemistry was used to assess the expression of COX-1 and -2, and 13 samples were also assessed using immunoblotting (six BPH and seven cancers). Results: For both BPH and prostate cancer, COX-1 expression was primarily in the fibromuscular stroma, with variable weak cytoplasmic expression in glandular/neoplastic epithelial cells. In contrast, COX-2 expression differed markedly between BPH and cancer. In BPH there was membranous expression of COX-2 in luminal glandular cells and no stromal expression. In cancer the stromal expression of COX-2 was unaltered, but expression by tumour cells was significantly greater (P = 0.008), with a change in the staining pattern from membranous to cytoplasmic (P < 0.001). COX-2 expression was significantly higher in poorly differentiated than in well differentiated tumours (P < 0 001). These results were supported by immunoblotting, which showed similar levels of COX-1 in both BPH and cancer, but four times greater expression of COX-2 in cancer than in BPH. Conclusion: This is the first study to assess the co-expression of COX-1 and COX-2 proteins in benign and malignant human prostates, and showed the induction and significantly greater expression of COX-2 in cancer, which was also associated with tumour grade. The regular use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is associated with a reduced incidence of cancers. The present results provide the basis for a potential role for COX-2 inhibitors in the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer.
- Prostate cancer