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Cyclo-oxygenase 2, a putative mediator of vessel remodeling, is expressed in the brain AVM vessels and associates with inflammation



Brain arteriovenous malformations (bAVM) may rupture causing disability or death. BAVM vessels are characterized by abnormally high flow that in general triggers expansive vessel remodeling mediated by cyclo-oxygenase-2 (COX2), the target of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. We investigated whether COX2 is expressed in bAVMs and whether it associates with inflammation and haemorrhage in these lesions.


Tissue was obtained from surgery of 139 bAVMs and 21 normal Circle of Willis samples. The samples were studied with immunohistochemistry and real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Clinical data was collected from patient records.


COX2 expression was found in 78% (109/139) of the bAVMs and localized to the vessels' lumen or medial layer in 70% (95/135) of the bAVMs. Receptors for prostaglandin E2, a COX2-derived mediator of vascular remodeling, were found in the endothelial and smooth muscle cells and perivascular inflammatory cells of bAVMs. COX2 was expressed by infiltrating inflammatory cells and correlated with the extent of inflammation (r = .231, p = .007, Spearman rank correlation). COX2 expression did not associate with haemorrhage.


COX2 is induced in bAVMs, and possibly participates in the regulation of vessel wall remodelling and ongoing inflammation. Role of COX2 signalling in the pathobiology and clinical course of bAVMs merits further studies.

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