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Gynecol Oncol. 2005 Jan;96(1):42-7.

HLA-G expression in effusions is a possible marker of tumor susceptibility to chemotherapy in ovarian carcinoma.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, The Norwegian Radium Hospital, University of Oslo, Montebello N-0310 Oslo, Norway.



We recently showed that the levels of secreted human leukocyte antigen-G (HLA-G), a nonclassical MHC class I antigen, are significantly elevated in malignant effusions in ovarian carcinoma compared to benign ones. The objective of this study was to evaluate the expression and clinical role of HLA-G in effusions and corresponding solid tumors from patients diagnosed with advanced-stage ovarian carcinoma.


Effusions (= 148), corresponding primary tumors (= 66), and metastatic lesions (= 122) were analyzed using immunohistochemistry with an anti-HLA-G monoclonal antibody.


HLA-G was detected in cancer cells in 49/148 (33%) effusions, 33/66 (50%) primary tumors, and 59/122 (48%) solid metastases. These differences did not reach statistical significance. Expression in effusions and solid metastases significantly correlated (P = 0.029). HLA-G expression in tumor cells was significantly lower in effusions obtained during or following chemotherapy (P = 0.038). The presence of HLA-G-positive tumor cells in effusions obtained prior to the institution of chemotherapy correlated with better overall survival (P = 0.042). HLA-G expression in primary tumors and solid metastases did not correlate with any of the clinicopathologic parameters studied.


HLA-G is expressed in a significant number of ovarian carcinomas at all anatomic sites. The reduced expression of HLA-G in post-chemotherapy effusions and its correlation with improved survival may be related to preferential susceptibility of HLA-G-expressing cells at this site. Our findings suggest a new role for HLA-G as a prognostic indicator in advanced-stage ovarian cancer in effusions.

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