Macrophages induce COX-2 expression in breast cancer cells: Role of IL-1β autoamplification Academic Article uri icon


MeSH Major

  • Breast Neoplasms
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • Gene Amplification
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal


  • Tumor-associated macrophages and high levels of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) are associated with poor prognosis in breast cancer patients, but their potential interdependence has not been evaluated. The objective of this study was to determine whether macrophages regulate COX-2 expression in breast cancer cells. For this purpose, THP-1 cells were cocultured with HCC1954 breast cancer cells. Coculture led to increased COX-2 expression in the HCC1954 cells and elevated prostaglandin E(2) levels in conditioned media. Similar results were observed when THP-1 cells were incubated with HCC1937 breast cancer cells or when human monocyte-derived macrophages were cocultured with HCC1954 cells. Coculture triggered production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in HCC1954 cells. COX-2 induction was blocked in cells preincubated with an reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) oxidase inhibitor or by silencing p67PHOX, a subunit of NADPH oxidase. ROS production triggered activation of Src and mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs). Blocking Src or MAPK activities or antagonizing the activator protein-1 (AP-1) transcription factor attenuated COX-2 induction in HCC1954 cells. Coculture caused rapid induction of interleukin-1β (IL-1β) in both breast cancer cells and macrophages. Increased IL-1β expression was blocked by an interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra), suggesting autocrine and paracrine effects. Importantly, macrophage-induced COX-2 expression was blocked in HCC1954 cells preincubated with IL-1Ra or anti-IL-1β IgG. Together, these results indicate that macrophage-mediated induction of COX-2 in breast cancer cells is a consequence of IL-1β-mediated stimulation of ROS→Src→MAPK→AP-1 signaling. IL-1β-dependent induction of COX-2 in breast cancer cells provides a mechanism whereby macrophages contribute to tumor progression and potential therapeutic targets in breast cancer.

publication date

  • May 13, 2011



  • Academic Article



  • eng

PubMed Central ID

  • PMC3086701

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/carcin/bgr027

PubMed ID

  • 21310944

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 695

end page

  • 702


  • 32


  • 5