Epiregulin (Ep) was found to be produced in non-cancer ovarian cells in response to gonadotropin stimulation as well in ovarian cancer cells in an autonomous manner. However, there were no systematic follow-up studies of Ep expression in the development of different stages of ovarian cancer. Using specific antibodies to Ep and the indirect immunocytochemistry methods, we found that in normal ovary the staining for Ep was mainly confined to the epithelial cells, while the stromal cells were only occasionally and moderately stained. In contrast in benign serous and mucinous tumors most of the tumor cells showed a clear staining in the cytoplasm. In borderline serous and mucinous tumors the staining was much more intensive, and appear occasionally in aggregated form. In serous, mucinous and endometrioid carcinomas labeling remain high, with more frequent aggregated form. It is suggested that follow-up of the expression of Ep can serve as a reliable early indication of the development of ovarian cancer. Moreover, the cytoplasmic aggregation of Ep may suggest a specific mechanism of the release of this growth factor to the extracellular space in order to exert its autocrine and paracrine effect on the family of the EGF receptors.
- EGF-like factors
- Epidermal growth factor receptor
- Ovarian cancer