The development of colorectal cancer (CRC) is commonly accompanied by the overexpression of the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) gene, with high levels being most common in early colorectal lesions. In the present study, we hypothesized that the expression of COX-2 in normal mucosa affects the expression of COX-2 in adjacent tumors. COX-2 protein expression levels were determined in tumor tissues and the adjacent normal mucosa of 49 paired clinical CRC specimens using western blotting and immunohistochemistry (IHC) staining. The majority of specimens exhibited an extremely low level of COX-2 expression in the tumor tissue and a markedly higher expression level in the adjacent normal tissue, however, high COX-2 expression in the tumor was shown to correlate with a high recurrence rate and poor overall survival. Of the nine CRC cell lines, HT29 showed consistently higher levels of COX-2 expression. Therefore, COX-2 expression in the normal tissue adjacent to the tumor may be involved in the tumorigenesis of CRC. These observations are likely to be useful in determining the significance of COX-2 expression in the tumorigenesis of CRC.
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