Indexed on: 25 Feb '09Published on: 25 Feb '09Published in: Expert opinion on therapeutic targets
COX-2 is upregulated at an early stage in colorectal carcinogenesis and generates prostaglandins, which promote cancer cell proliferation, impair apoptosis and enhance angiogenesis, promoting tumour growth and metastasis. There are ample data from animal models and human studies to demonstrate enhanced tumour progression associated with COX-2 activity in cancer cells. Conversely, NSAIDs including aspirin inhibit COX-2 and, therefore, have anti-neoplastic properties. There has been sustained interest in COX-2 as a chemopreventive target in colorectal cancer (CRC) and although both aspirin and COX-2 selective NSAIDs have demonstrated efficacy, adverse effects have limited their widespread adoption. In particular, evidence of the cardiovascular effects of COX-2 selective inhibitors has led to questioning of the suitability of COX-2 as a target for chemoprevention. This review examines the basis for targeting COX-2 in CRC chemoprevention, evaluates the efficacy and safety of the approach and examines future strategies in this area.