Molecular Determinants in Targeted Therapy for Esophageal Adenocarcinoma

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Cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) are useful biological determinants in targeted therapy for esophageal adenocarcinoma.


Prospective analysis.


University tertiary referral center.


Sixteen patients with squamous mucosa and normal results of a pH study without mucosal injury (control group), 15 with Barrett esophagus (metaplasia group), and 44 with adenocarcinoma (carcinoma group).


Biopsy specimens were obtained 3 cm above the gastroesophageal junction. Dysplastic tissue was additionally isolated from 9 of the patients in the carcinoma group. After laser-capture microdissection, quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction was used to measure gene expression across the spectrum of the metaplasia-dysplasia-carcinoma sequence.

Main Outcome Measures

Expression of COX-2, VEGF, and EGFR in each patient group.


Expression of both COX-2 and VEGF was significantly up-regulated in patients with metaplasia, dysplasia, and cancer compared with controls (P<.01). Expression levels of both were significantly higher in cancer than in the metaplasia group (P<.05) and increased sequentially from metaplasia to dysplasia to cancer. Expression of VEGF was significantly higher in the dysplastic tissue than in nondysplastic Barrett epithelium (P<.05). No change in expression levels of EGFR was seen in the histologic progression to esophageal adenocarcinoma.


Gene expression data suggest that pharmacologic inhibition of COX-2 and VEGF may be useful adjuncts in targeted therapy for esophageal adenocarcinoma.

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