Establishment of a complex inflammatory and protumorigenic microenvironment in mouse pancreas through cyclooxygenase-2 overexpression

Jennifer Kay Long Colby, The University of Texas Grad. Sch. of Biomed. Sci. at Houston


Chronic inflammation is an established risk factor in the pathogenesis of many cancers. Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, a malignancy with a particularly dismal prognosis, is no exception. Cyclooxygenase-2, a key enzyme induced by tissue injury, has a critical role in the generation of bioactive lipids known as prostaglandins. COX-2 overexpression is a frequent finding in pancreatic cancer, chronic pancreatitis and pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasias. To explore mechanisms through which chronic inflammation establishes and maintains a protumorigenic environment, we designed a mouse model overexpressing COX-2 in pancreatic parenchyma (BK5.COX-2 mice). We discovered that constitutive expression of COX-2 has a number of important sequelae, including upregulation of additional eicosanoid-generating enzymes and proinflammatory cytokines. Many of these molecular alterations precede the onset of significant histopathological changes. Increased levels of prostaglandins E2, D2, and F, 5-, 12-, and 15-hydroxyeiosatetraenoic acid (HETEs) were documented in tumors and pancreata of younger transgenic mice. Using a TaqMan™ Mouse Immune Panel, we detected elevated mRNAs for a number of proinflammatory cytokines (e.g., TNFα, IL-1β, IL-6). ^ Histological examination revealed early changes in the pancreas with similarities to human chronic pancreatitis, including loss of acinar cells, appearance of metaplastic ducts, and increased deposition of stroma. As the lesions progress, features typical of dysplastic and neoplastic cells emerged within the metaplastic ductal complexes, including cellular and nuclear atypia, crowding of cells, and loss of normal tissue architecture. The amount of fibroinflammatory stroma increased considerably; numerous small vessels were evident. A number of immunocytes from both the myeloid and lymphoid lineages were identified in transgenic pancreata. Neutrophils were the earliest to infiltrate, followed shortly by macrophages and mast cells. B and T cells generally began to appear by 8–12 weeks, and organized aggregates of lymphoid cells were often found in advanced lesions. ^ We tested the efficacy of several chemopreventive agents in this model, including celecoxib, a COX-2 selective inhibitor, pentoxifylline, a cytokine inhibitor, curcumin, a polyphenol with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and GW2974, a dual EGFR/ErbB2 inhibitor. Effects on lesion development were modest in the GW2974 and pentoxifylline treated groups, but significant prevention effects were observed with curcumin and celecoxib. ^

Subject Area

Biology, Molecular|Health Sciences, Oncology

Recommended Citation

Colby, Jennifer Kay Long, "Establishment of a complex inflammatory and protumorigenic microenvironment in mouse pancreas through cyclooxygenase-2 overexpression" (2009). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3394953.