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Am J Pathol. 1991 Feb;138(2):455-63.

Marker profile of different phases in the transition of normal human ovarian epithelium to ovarian carcinomas.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


To investigate whether early changes in the transformation of normal ovarian epithelial cells into tumor cells can be detected with monoclonal antibodies, a comparative immunohistochemical study was performed on normal human ovarian mesothelial cells, cystomas, cystadenomas, ovarian carcinomas, as well as granulosa cell tumor. Using monoclonal antibodies against different keratin subtypes, it was shown that mesothelial cells, ovarian cysts, cystadenomas, and carcinomas all reacted positively with broad-spectrum anti-keratin monoclonal antibodies (MAbs), as well as with MAbs to keratins 7, 8, 18, and 19. Keratins 4 and 13 were not found in mesothelial cells, but positive groups of cells were identified in several cystomas, adenomas, and carcinomas. While mesothelial cells did not react with the pan-epithelial marker BW495/36, invaginating metaplastic mesothelial cells, inclusion cysts, cystomas, adenomas, and carcinomas showed an increasing reactivity with BW495/36, with an increasing degree of malignancy. The reactivity of MAbs against ovarian carcinoma-associated antigens (OV-TL 3, OC 125, MOv 18, and OV-TL 10) was limited to weak staining reaction in some mesothelial cells but were found to be positive on more than 50% of the ovarian cystadenomas and more than 90% of the ovarian carcinomas. Thecal and granulosa cells of primordial, primary, and secondary follicles all reacted positively with antibodies to the broad-spectrum keratins OV-TL 12/5 and RCK 102, and to keratins 8 and 18, but not with keratins 4, 7, 13, and 19. These keratins decreased or disappeared in granulosa cells of mature follicles (Graafian follicles), whereas granulosa cell tumors did not react with anti-keratin antibodies. The reactivity of BW 495/36 was negative or limited to traces in some granulosa cells. Ovarian carcinoma-associated antigens were not expressed in granulosa cells or granulosa cell tumors. The data indicate that mesothelial cells undergoing metaplastic changes finally resulting in ovarian cystadenomas (and carcinomas) initiate the synthesis of a 200-kd glycoprotein recognized by MAb (BW 495/36), the production of ovarian carcinoma associated antigens, in addition to focal production of keratin 4 and/or 13, as seen in several samples. The granulosa cell tumors decrease or switch off their keratin production and remain negative for the 200-kd glycoprotein and the ovarian carcinoma-associated antigens.

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