Cyclooxygenases: Mediators of UV-induced skin cancer and potential targets for prevention

Academic Article


  • Non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSCs) are among the most common human malignancies. Current methods for their prevention include avoidance of natural and artificial sources of UV radiation and using photoprotective clothing and sunscreens. However, these methods have proven to be inadequate in stemming the rise in skin cancer incidence over the past several years. There is accumulating evidence that cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), an enzyme involved in prostaglandin synthesis, may be involved in the pathogenesis of NMSC. In preclinical studies, animals genetically deficient in the COX-2 enzyme or that have been treated with pharmacological inhibitors of COX-2 develop significantly fewer tumors when subjected to a UV-induced skin carcinogenesis protocol compared with control mice. Several epidemiological studies in humans support the concept that this enzyme is intimately involved in UV-induced skin cancer development, and UV radiation is known to augment COX-2 expression in human skin. Recent studies suggest that drugs that block COX-2 expression may prevent the development of NMSCs. Thus, pharmacologic agents that inhibit the enzyme COX-2 may be effective chemopreventive agents for NMSCs.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Elmets CA; J. Ledet J; Athar M
  • Start Page

  • 2497
  • End Page

  • 2502
  • Volume

  • 134
  • Issue

  • 10