Published online Jul 28, 2021. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v27.i28.4653
Peer-review started: January 27, 2021
First decision: March 7, 2021
Revised: March 17, 2021
Accepted: July 2, 2021
Article in press: July 2, 2021
Published online: July 28, 2021
Gastric cancer accounts for the majority cancer-related deaths worldwide. Although various methods have considerably improved the screening, diagnosis, and treatment of gastric cancer, its incidence is still high in Asia, and the 5-year survival rate of advanced gastric cancer patients is only 10%-20%. Therefore, more effective drugs and better screening strategies are needed for reducing the incidence and mortality of gastric cancer. Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) is considered to be the key inducible enzyme in prostaglandins (PGs) synthesis, which is involved in multiple pathways in the inflammatory response. For example, inflammatory cytokines stimulate innate immune responses via Toll-like receptors and nuclear factor-kappa B to induce COX-2/PGE2 pathway. In these processes, the production of an inflammatory microenvironment promotes the occurrence of gastric cancer. Epidemiological studies have also indicated that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can reduce the risk of malignant tumors of the digestive system by blocking the effect of COX-2. However, clinical use of COX-2 inhibitors to prevent or treat gastric cancer may be limited because of potential side effects, especially in the cardiovascular system. Given these side effects and low treatment efficacy, new therapeutic approaches and early screening strategies are urgently needed. Some studies have shown that genetic variation in COX-2 also play an important role in carcinogenesis. However, the genetic variation analysis in these studies is incomplete and isolated, pointing out only a few single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and the risk of gastric cancer, and no comprehensive study covering the whole gene region has been carried out. In addition, copy number variation (CNV) is not mentioned. In this review, we summarize the SNPs in the whole COX-2 gene sequence, including exons, introns, and both the 5’ and 3’ untranslated regions. Results suggest that COX-2 does not increase its expression through the CNV and the SNPs in COX-2 may serve as the potential marker to establish risk stratification in the general population. This review synthesizes emerging insights of COX-2 as a biomarker in multiple studies, summarizes the association between whole COX-2 sequence variation and susceptibility to gastric cancer, and discusses the future prospect of therapeutic intervention, which will be helpful for early screening and further research to find new approaches to gastric cancer treatment.
Core Tip: Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) is considered to be the key inducible enzyme in prostaglandins synthesis, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can reduce the risk of malignant tumors of the digestive system by blocking the effect of COX-2. However, COX-2 inhibitors to prevent or treat gastric cancer may be limited because of their cardiovascular side effects. This review will be helpful for early screening and further research to find new approaches to gastric cancer treatment by summarizing the association between whole COX-2 sequence variation and susceptibility to gastric cancer and synthesizing the new progress in understanding the role of COX-2 in gastric carcinogenesis.