COX-2 modulates mammary tumor progression in response to collagen density

Karla Esbona, David Inman, Sandeep Saha, Justin Jeffery, Pepper Schedin, Lee Wilke, Patricia Keely

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Background: High breast density is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, and correlates with changes in collagen. In a mouse model of mammary carcinoma in the context of increased collagen deposition, the MMTV-PyMT/Col1a1 tm1jae , there is accelerated mammary tumor formation and progression. Previous gene expression analysis suggests that increased collagen density elevates expression of PTGS2 (prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthase 2), the gene for cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). Methods: To understand the role of COX-2 in tumor progression within a collagen-dense microenvironment, we treated MMTV-PyMT or MMTV-PyMT/Col1a1 tm1jae tumors prior to and after tumor formation. Animals received treatment with celecoxib, a specific COX-2 inhibitor, or placebo. Mammary tumors were examined for COX-2, inflammatory and stromal cell components, and collagen deposition through immunohistochemical analysis, immunofluorescence, multiplex cytokine ELISA and tissue imaging techniques. Results: PyMT/Col1a1 tm1jae tumors were larger, more proliferative, and expressed higher levels of COX-2 and PGE2 than PyMT tumors in wild type (WT) mice. Treatment with celecoxib significantly decreased the induced tumor size and metastasis of the PyMT/Col1a1 tumors, such that their size was not different from the smaller PyMT tumors. Celecoxib had minimal effect on the PyMT tumors. Celecoxib decreased expression levels of COX-2, PGE2, and Ki-67. Several cytokines were over-expressed in PyMT/Col1a1 compared to PyMT, and celecoxib treatment prevented their over-expression. Furthermore, macrophage and neutrophil recruitment were enhanced in PyMT/Col1a1 tumors, and this effect was inhibited by celecoxib. Notably, COX-2 inhibition reduced overall collagen deposition. Finally, when celecoxib was used prior to tumor formation, PyMT/Col1a1 tumors were fewer and smaller than in untreated animals. Conclusion: These findings suggest that COX-2 has a direct role in modulating tumor progression in tumors arising within collagen-dense microenvironments, and suggest that COX-2 may be an effective therapeutic target for women with dense breast tissue and early-stage breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number35
JournalBreast Cancer Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 22 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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