PURPOSE: To investigate the pattern and level of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) expression in a series of high grade primary and recurrent glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) and correlation with time to recurrence and patients' survival following therapy. The relationship between COX-2 and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) immunoreactivities was evaluated.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Specimens of 14 primary and 14 recurrent GBMs (eight pairs) following surgery and full course radiation therapy were processed for immunostaining on COX-2 and EGFR. Tumor cell positivity was semi-quantitatively scored. COX-2 scores of the primary tumor and recurrence were correlated with the time to radiological tumor progression and patients' survival.
RESULTS: COX-2 positive tumor cells were disseminated throughout the tumor parenchyma. The intensity and pattern of COX-2 expression were heterogeneous, with predominant expression in areas surrounding tumor necrosis. Scoring of COX-2 positivity revealed values between 1 and 80% of the cells. Primary GBMs with COX-2 expression levels between 25% and 70% of the tumor cells showed a shorter time to radiological recurrence than GBMs with <10% COX-2 positive tumor cells (respectively, 219 +/- 50 and 382 +/- 77 days). No correlation was found between the COX-2 expression in the primary tumor and patients' survival (r (s) = -0.073) following therapy. No correlation was found either between COX-2 and EGFR immunoreactivity.
CONCLUSIONS: Immunohistochemical expression of COX-2 in GBM showed large variation. Hence, determination of COX-2 expression in tumor specimen for each individual might be relevant for selection of those patients, who could benefit from adjuvant therapy with selective COX-2 inhibitors.