Estrogen-induced gene expression and patient survival in high-grade serous carcinoma of the ovary

Matthew P Schlumbrecht, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Background. Assessment of estrogen receptor (ER) expression has inconsistent utility as a prognostic marker in epithelial ovarian carcinoma. In breast and endometrial cancers, the use of estrogen-induced gene panels, rather than ER expression alone, has shown improved prognostic capability. Specifically, over-expression of estrogen-induced genes in these tumors is associated with a better prognosis and signifies estrogen sensitivity that can be exploited with hormone antagonizing agents. It was therefore hypothesized that estrogen-induced gene expression in ovarian carcinoma would successfully predict outcomes and differentiate between tumors of varying estrogen sensitivities. Methods. Two hundred nineteen (219) patients with ovarian cancer who underwent surgery at M. D. Anderson between 2004 and 2007 were identified. Of these, eighty-three (83) patients were selected for inclusion because they had advanced stage, high-grade serous carcinoma of the ovary or peritoneum, had not received neoadjuvant chemotherapy, and had readily available frozen tissue for study. All patients had also received adjuvant treatment with platinum and taxane agents. The expression of seven genes known to be induced by estrogen in the female reproductive tract (EIG121, sFRP1, sFRP4, RALDH2, PR, IGF-1, and ER) was measured using qRT-PCR. Unsupervised cluster analyses of multiple gene permutations were used to categorize patients as high or low estrogen-induced gene expressors. QPCR gene expression results were then compared to ER and PR immunohistochemical (IHC) expression. Cox proportional hazards models were used to evaluate the effects of both individual genes and selected gene clusters on patient survival. Results. Median follow-up time was 38.7 months (range 1-68 months). In a multivariate model, overall survival was predicted by sFRP1 expression (HR 1.10 [1.02-1.19], p=0.01) and EIG121 expression (HR 1.28 [1.10-1.49], p<0.01). A cluster defined by EIG121 and ER was further examined because that combination appeared to reasonably segregate tumors into distinct groups of high and low estrogen-induced gene expressors. Shorter overall survival was associated with high estrogen-induced gene expressors (HR 2.84 [1.11-7.30], p=0.03), even after adjustment for race, age, body mass index, and residual disease at debulking. No difference in IHC ER or PR expression was noted between gene clusters. Conclusion. In sharp contrast to breast and endometrial cancers, high estrogen-induced gene expression predicts shorter overall survival in patients with high-grade serous ovarian carcinoma. An estrogen-induced gene biomarker panel may have utility as prognostic indicator and may be useful to guide management with estrogen antagonists in this population.

Subject Area

Public health|Oncology

Recommended Citation

Schlumbrecht, Matthew P, "Estrogen-induced gene expression and patient survival in high-grade serous carcinoma of the ovary" (2010). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1474726.