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Abstract

Cancer that arises from the ovarian surface epithelium (OSE) accounts for approximately 90% of human ovarian cancer, and is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women in developed countries. The pathophysiology of epithelial ovarian cancer is still unclear because of the poor understanding of the complex nature of its development and the unusual mechanism(s) of disease progression. Recent studies have reported epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) in cultured OSE and ovarian cancer cell lines in response to various stimuli, but our understanding of the importance of these observations for normal ovarian physiology and cancer progression is not well established. This review highlights the current literature on EMT-associated events in normal OSE and ovarian cancer cell lines, and discusses its implication for normal ovarian function as well as acquisition of neoplastic phenotypes. The pathological changes in OSE in response to EMT during neoplastic transformation and the contribution of hormones, growth factors, and cytokines that initiate and drive EMT to sustain normal ovarian function, as well as cancer development and progression are also discussed. Finally, emphasis is placed on the clinical implications of EMT and potential therapeutic opportunities that may arise from these observations have been proposed. J. Cell. Physiol. 213:581–588. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.