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Keywords:

  • cell signaling;
  • ovarian neoplasms;
  • prognostic factors;
  • 4E binding protein 1

Abstract

BACKGROUND.

Growth factor receptors and cell signaling factors play a crucial role in human carcinomas and have been studied in ovarian tumors with varying results. Cell signaling involves multiple pathways and a myriad of factors that can be mutated or amplified. Cell signaling is driven through the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and extracellular regulated kinase (ERK) pathways and by some downstream molecules, such as 4E binding protein 1 (4EBP1), eukaryotic initiation factor 4E, and p70 ribosomal protein S6 kinase (p70S6K). The objectives of this study were to analyze the real role that these pathways play in ovarian cancer, to correlate them with clinicopathologic characteristics, and to identify the factors that transmit individual proliferation signals and are associated with pathologic grade and prognosis, regardless specific oncogenic alterations upstream.

METHODS.

One hundred twenty-nine ovarian epithelial tumors were studied, including 20 serous cystadenomas, 7 mucinous cystadenomas, 11 serous borderline tumors, 16 mucinous borderline tumors, 29 serous carcinomas, 16 endometrioid carcinomas, 15 clear cell carcinomas, and 15 mucinous carcinomas. Tissue microarrays were constructed, and immunohistochemistry for the receptors epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and c-erb-B2 was performed and with phosphorylated antibodies for protein kinase B (AKT), 4EBP1, p70S6K, S6, and ERK.

RESULTS.

Among 129 ovarian neoplasms, 17.8% were positive for c-erb-B2, 9.3% were positive for EGFR, 47.3% were positive for phosphorylated AKT (p-AKT), 58.9% were positive for p-ERK, 41.1% were positive for p-4EBP1, 26.4% were positive for p70S6K, and 15.5% were positive for p-S6. Although EGFR, p-AKT, and p-ERK expression did not differ between benign, borderline, or malignant tumors, c-erb-B2, p-4EBP1, p-p70S6K, and p-S6 were expressed significantly more often in malignant tumors. Only p-4EBP1 expression demonstrated prognostic significance (P = .005), and only surgical stage and p-4EBP1 expression had statistical significance in the multivariate analysis.

CONCLUSIONS.

In patients with ovarian carcinoma, significant expression of p-4EBP1 was associated with high-grade tumors and a poor prognosis, regardless other oncogenic alterations upstream. This finding supports the study of this factor as a hallmark or pivotal factor in cell signaling in ovarian carcinoma that may crucial in the transmission of the proliferation cell signal and may reflect the real oncogenic role of this pathway in ovarian tumors. Cancer 2006. © 2006 American Cancer Society.