Pleomorphic adenoma (PA), mucoepidermoid carcinoma (MEC), and adenoid cystic carcinoma (AdCC) are the most common benign and malignant salivary gland tumors. Cyclooxygenase‑2 (COX‑2) is a key regulatory enzyme that its overexpression in various tumors is correlated with progression, metastasis, and apoptosis inhibition. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a potent angiogenic mediator that has an important role in neoplastic angiogenesis. The aim of this study was to immunohistochemically analyze the expression of COX‑2 and VEGF and to compare the expression of benign and two malignant salivary gland tumors with varied structures.
In this cross‑sectional study, 90 specimens including 30 cases of each tumor were retrieved. Immunohistochemical staining of COX‑2 and VEGF was performed for all the samples. The percentage of positive tumor cells and staining intensity was evaluated by two pathologists blindly. Data were analyzed by Chi‑square and Gamma test and P < 0.05.
A statistically significant difference was noted between the expression and intensity of COX‑2 and VEGF in PA, MEC, and AdCC (P < 0.05). A significant correlation was observed between COX‑2 and VEGF expression in MEC and AdCC (P < 0.05). However, no significant correlation was found between the expression and intensity of COX‑2 and VEGF with histologic grade and lymph node metastasis in MEC and AdCC (P < 0.05).
High expression of VEGF and COX‑2 in malignant tumors compared to PA suggested the role of both markers in malignant transformation. The significant correlation of VEGF expression with COX‑2 may represent the role of COX‑2 in tumor angiogenesis by modulating VEGF production.
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