The formation of new blood vessels, a process globally referred to as angiogenesis, occurs in a number of pathological conditions, such as cancer and chronic inflammation. Recent findings indicate that cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), the inducible form of the cyclooxygenase (COX) isoenzymes, acts as a potent inducer of angiogenesis. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are classical inhibitors of COX enzymes, which are widely prescribed for the treatment of inflammation, pain and fever. Selective COX-2 inhibitors (COXIBs) have been subsequently developed with the purpose to improve the safety profile of this class of therapeutics. More recently, substantial preclinical evidence demonstrated that NSAIDS and COXIBs have anti-angiogenic properties. This newly recognized activity opens the possibility of using these drugs for the treatment of angiogenesis-dependent diseases. In this article we review the most recent advances in understanding the mechanisms by which NSAIDs and COXIBs suppress angiogenesis, and we discuss their potential clinical use as anti-angiogenic drugs.
Keywords: angiogenesis, cancer, cell adhesion, cyclooxygenase, prostaglandins, signaling, chronic inflammation
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