The role of COX-2 in intestinal inflammation and colorectal cancer

D. Wang, R. N. Dubois

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

666 Scopus citations


Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a heterogeneous disease, including at least three major forms: hereditary, sporadic and colitis-associated CRC. A large body of evidence indicates that genetic mutations, epigenetic changes, chronic inflammation, diet and lifestyle are the risk factors for CRC. As elevated cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) expression was found in most CRC tissue and is associated with worse survival among CRC patients, investigators have sought to evaluate the effects of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and selective COX-2 inhibitors (COXIBs) on CRC. The epidemiological studies, clinical trials and animal experiments indicate that NSAIDs are among the most promising chemopreventive agents for this disease. NSAIDs exert their anti-inflammatory and antitumor effects primarily by reducing prostaglandin production by inhibition of COX-2 activity. In this review, we highlight breakthroughs in our understanding of the roles of COX-2 in CRC and inflammatory bowel disease. These recent data provide a rationale for re-evaluating COX-2 as both the prognostic and the predictive marker in a wide variety of malignancies and for renewing the interest in evaluating relative benefits and risk of COXIBs in appropriately selected patients for cancer prevention and treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)781-788
Number of pages8
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Colorectal cancer
  • Cyclooxygenase
  • Inflammation
  • NSAIDs
  • Prostaglandins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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