, Volume 447, Issue 1, pp 12-17
Date: 10 Jun 2005

Cyclooxygenase-2 in normal, hyperplastic and neoplastic follicular cells of the human thyroid gland

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This study was undertaken to investigate cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) expression in follicular cells of the human thyroid. COX-2 expression was studied immunohistochemically in a total of 174 samples. COX-2 immunoreactivity was confined to the cell cytoplasm with the nuclei remaining unlabelled. COX-2 expression was observed in five cases (17.2%) of normal follicular cells and in one case (16.6%) of solid cell nests. Follicular carcinoma expressed COX-2 more frequently than follicular adenoma (93.4% vs 21.1%) (p≤0.001). A higher percentage of cases of papillary microcarcinomas up-regulated COX-2 in comparison with all papillary carcinomas (p≤0.05). However, we could not establish any relationships among COX-2, patients’ ages or lymph node metastases in papillary carcinomas. COX-2 expression was found in 12 (92.3%) poorly differentiated carcinomas and in 13 (92.8%) undifferentiated carcinomas. We found that COX-2 is not always useful as a marker of malignancy. Our results suggest that COX-2 plays a role in progression of all thyroid carcinomas, but in papillary carcinomas, seems more important only in the early stages. COX-2 expression in the undifferentiated carcinoma deserves special consideration due to its prognosis and to the fact that selective COX-2 inhibitors were found to enhance tumour response to radiation in some studies.