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Gynecol Oncol. 2001 Aug;82(2):257-60.

Telomerase activity in sex cord-stromal tumors of the ovary.

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Section of Gynecologic Surgery, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, USA.



Telomerase is a ribonucleoprotein that protects chromosomes from degradation and end-to-end fusions by maintaining telomere length. Studies have shown that telomerase is present in 95% of gynecologic malignancies and in 88% of epithelial ovarian carcinomas but undetectable in benign tissue. The aim of this investigation was to determine whether telomerase is present in sex cord-stromal tumors and whether telomerase activity is indicative of patient outcomes.


Forty-five consecutive sex cord-stromal ovarian tumors were analyzed by using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction for expression of human telomerase, human telomerase reverse transcriptase, and telomerase activity.


Of the 29 patients with malignant cell types (granulosa cell, Sertoli-Leydig cell, and steroid cell tumors), 21 of the 28 patients (75%) available for follow-up had recurrence, with a mean follow-up of 86 months (95% CI, 36-157 months). The telomerase repeat amplification protocol assay had a sensitivity of 74% and specificity of 94% for malignancy. Patients with telomerase-positive tumors had a mean disease-free interval of 66.5 months; for those with telomerase-negative tumors the interval was 90 months. In addition, patients with telomerase-positive tumors were more likely to be dead from disease or alive with disease than those without telomerase activity, and they showed trends toward requiring a larger number of surgical procedures for the treatment of their disease. However, these trends were not statistically significant.


Although activation of telomerase is clearly an important step in carcinogenesis, it is unlikely to be helpful in the clinical management of sex cord-stromal tumors of the ovary.

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