To examine the association between cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) expression with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), and latent membrane protein 1 (LMP-1) expression and with COX-2 promoter methylation status in primary nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC) tumors and to determine COX-2 promoter methylation status in NPC cell lines.
Patients with NPC were referred to the Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery for treatment.
Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded NPC specimens from 42 patients were obtained.
Immunohistochemical expression of COX-2, EGFR, VEGF, iNOS, and LMP-1 was performed in 42 NPC samples. COX-2 promoter methylation status was studied in 20 separate specimens and in 4 NPC cell lines.
Main Outcome Measures
(1) COX-2, EGFR, VEGF, iNOS, and LMP-1 expression; and (2) COX-2 promotor methylation status.
COX-2 was overexpressed in 79% of NPC specimens and was associated with EGFR status (P = .03) but not with LMP-1 or iNOS. In primary NPC tissue, methylation of the COX-2 promoter was seen in 4 of 7 COX-2–negative and 1 of 13 COX-2–positive immunohistochemical cases. COX-2 promoter methylation was found in the CNE-1 cell line.
Nasopharyngeal cancer may be a useful target for selective COX-2 inhibition. The absence of promoter methylation may be a necessary component of COX-2 overexpression, and promoter methylation may be one of the mechanisms that regulate COX-2 expression.