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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2008 Apr;1785(2):232-65. doi: 10.1016/j.bbcan.2008.01.001. Epub 2008 Feb 7.

Clinical implications of the ErbB/epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor family and its ligands in ovarian cancer.

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  • 1Department of Experimental Pathology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.


The ERBB or EGF receptor (EGFR) proto-oncogene family, which consists of four structurally-related transmembrane receptors (i.e., EGFR, ErbB2, ErbB3, and ErbB4), plays an etiological role in the molecular pathogenesis of cancer and is a key therapeutic target in many types of cancer, including ovarian cancer. These ErbB/EGF receptor tyrosine kinases play important physiologic roles in cell proliferation, survival, adhesion, motility, invasion, and angiogenesis. It is, therefore, not surprising that gene amplification, genetic mutation, and altered transcription/translation result in aberrant ErbB/EGF receptor expression and/or signal transduction, contributing to the development of malignant transformation. Clinically, the diagnostic, prognostic, and theragnostic significance of any single ErbB receptor and/or ErbB ligand is controversial, but generally, ErbB receptor overexpression has been correlated with poor prognosis and decreased therapeutic responsiveness in ovarian cancer patients. Thus, anticancer agents targeting ErbB/EGF receptors hold great promise for personalized cancer treatment. Yet, challenges remain in designing prospective clinical trials to assess the clinical utility of ErbB receptors and their ligands to diagnose cancer; to predict progression-free and overall survival, therapeutic responsiveness, and disease recurrence; and to monitor treatment responsiveness. Here, we review the tissue expression and serum biomarker studies that have evaluated the diagnostic, prognostic, and theragnostic utility of ErbB/EGF receptors, their circulating soluble isoforms (sEGFR/sErbBs), and their cognate ligands in ovarian cancer patients.

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