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PLoS One. 2009 Jul 20;4(7):e6292. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006292.

Functional folate receptor alpha is elevated in the blood of ovarian cancer patients.

Author information

1
Department of Immunology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Despite low incidence, ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths and it has the highest mortality rate of all gynecologic malignancies among US women. The mortality rate would be reduced with an early detection marker. The folate receptor alpha (FRalpha) is one logical choice for a biomarker because of its prevalent overexpression in ovarian cancer and its exclusive expression in only a few normal tissues. In prior work, it was observed that patients with ovarian cancer had elevated serum levels of a protein that bound to a FRalpha-specific monoclonal antibody relative to healthy individuals. However, it was not shown that the protein detected was intact functional FRalpha. In the current study, the goal was to determine whether ovarian cancer patients (n = 30) had elevated serum levels of a fully functional intact FRalpha compared to matched healthy controls (n = 30).

METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:

FRalpha levels in serum were analyzed by two methods, immunoblotting analysis and a radiolabeled folic acid-based microfiltration binding assay. Using the immunoassay, we observed that levels of FRalpha were higher in serum of ovarian cancer patients as compared to controls. Similar results were also observed using the microfiltration binding assay, which showed that the circulating FRalpha is functional. Importantly, we also found that the levels of FRalpha were comparable between early and advanced stage patients.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our results demonstrate that ovarian cancer patients have elevated levels of functional intact FRalpha. These findings support the potential use of circulating FRalpha as a biomarker of early ovarian cancer.

PMID:
19617914
PMCID:
PMC2707611
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0006292
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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