Nitric oxide synthase, cyclooxygenase 2, and vascular endothelial growth factor in the angiogenesis of non-small cell lung carcinoma

Aizen J. Marrogi, William D. Travis, Judith A. Welsh, Mohammed A. Khan, Haress Rahim, Henry Tazelaar, Peter Pairolero, Victor Trastek, James Jett, Neil E. Caporaso, Lance A. Liotta, Curtis C. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

200 Scopus citations


We have investigated the hypothesis that nitric oxide synthase (NOS2), cyclooxygenase-2 (COX2), and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) protein levels individually demonstrate a direct correlation with microvessel density (MVD) and clinical outcome in human non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Furthermore, we hypothesized that MVD may explain the propensity of certain histological lung cancer subtypes for early metastasis via a hematological route. Immunohistochemically, we studied the protein expression levels of NOS2, COX2, and VEGF and MVD by counting CD31-reactive blood vessels (BVs) in 106 surgically resected NSCLC specimens. NOS2, COX2, and VEGF immunoreactivity were observed in 48, 48, and 58%, respectively, of the study subjects, and their levels correlated with MVD at the tumor-stromal interphase (P ≤ 0.001). More adenocarcinomas and large cell carcinomas displayed overexpression of NOS2 when compared with squamous cell carcinoma (SCC r = 0.44; P < 0.001). NOS2 and COX2 levels were found to correlate positively with VEGF status (r = 0.44; P < 0.001, 0.01, and 0.03, respectively). These results attest to the significant interaction of these factors in the angiogenesis of NSCLC. Although neither angiogenic factors nor MVD correlated with patient survival, the latter correlated with tumor clinical stage in both squamous (SCC; 73 BVs/mm2) and non-SCC (78 BVs/mm2) tumors. These results indicate that angiogenesis is a complex process that involves multiple factors including NOS2, COX2, and VEGF. Furthermore, the role of angiogenesis in the biology of various histological lung cancer types may be different. The complexity of angiogenesis may explain the modest results observed in anti-angiogenesis therapy that target a single protein.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4739-4744
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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