Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) is a critically important mediator of inflammation that significantly influences tumor angiogenesis, invasion, and metastasis. We investigated the role of COX-2 expressed by triple negative breast cancer cells in altering the structure and function of the extracellular matrix (ECM). COX-2 downregulation effects on ECM structure and function were investigated using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and second harmonic generation (SHG) microscopy of tumors derived from triple negative MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells, and a derived clone stably expressing a short hairpin (shRNA) molecule downregulating COX-2. MRI of albumin-GdDTPA was used to characterize macromolecular fluid transport in vivo and SHG microscopy was used to quantify collagen 1 (Col1) fiber morphology. COX-2 downregulation decreased Col1 fiber density and altered macromolecular fluid transport. Immunohistochemistry identified significantly fewer activated cancer associated fibroblasts (CAFs) in low COX- 2 expressing tumors. Metastatic lung nodules established by COX-2 downregulated cells were infrequent, smaller, and contained fewer Col1 fibers. COX-2 overexpression studies were performed with tumors derived from triple negative SUM-149 breast cancer cells lentivirally transduced to overexpress COX-2. SHG microscopy identified significantly higher Col1 fiber density in COX-2 overexpressing tumors with an increase of CAFs. These data expand upon the roles of COX-2 in shaping the structure and function of the ECM in primary and metastatic tumors, and identify the potential role of COX-2 in modifying the number of CAFs in tumors that may have contributed to the altered ECM.
- Cancer associated fibroblasts
- Collagen 1 fibers
- Macromolecular transport
ASJC Scopus subject areas