Identification of molecular aberrations in premalignant human mammary epithelial cells (hMEC), the precursors for breast cancers, is a central goal in breast cancer biology. Recent studies implicated expression of cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) as a marker to identify precursor cells for breast cancer. In this study, we analyzed COX-2 expression in preselection and postselection hMEC cells and observed similar COX-2 levels in both cells. Interestingly, immortalization of postselection cells using various methods leads to a dramatic decrease in COX-2 expression. Similar to immortal cells, the majority of breast cancer cell lines expressed low levels of COX-2 protein. Finally, analyses of COX-2 expression in a series of specimens from reduction mammoplasty, adenosis, ductal carcinoma in situ, and infiltrating ductal carcinoma showed down-regulation of COX-2 expression during tumor progression. Importantly, down-regulation of COX-2 using small interfering RNA in cells showed no effect on cell proliferation, anchorage-independent growth, migration, or invasion. These results show that (a) COX-2 overexpression does not seem to predict a breast cancer precursor cell and does not provide advantage for the cell to be transformed; (b) inhibition of COX-2 does not affect hMEC growth and oncogenic behavior in the conditions analyzed; and (c) COX-2 expression is decreased in breast cancer cell lines and cancer specimens as compared with normal mammary epithelial cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research