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Int J Cancer. 1997 Aug 22;74(4):407-15.

Reduced expression of retinoblastoma gene product (pRB) and high expression of p53 are associated with poor prognosis in ovarian cancer.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Queensland, Royal Brisbane Hospital, Australia.


Paraffin sections (n = 168, 27 benign, 16 low malignant potential [LMP] and 125 malignant tumours) from epithelial ovarian tumours were evaluated immunohistochemically for expression of retinoblastoma gene product (pRB) and p53 protein, and the relationship among pRB, p53 and cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 2 (CDKN2) gene product p16INK4A (p16) was analysed, following our previous study of p16. Forty-one percent of the benign, 50% of the LMP and most (71%) of the malignant tumours showed high pRB expression. High expression of pRB (>50% pRB-positive cells) significantly correlated with non-mucinous histological subtypes. Reduced pRB expression, substage and residual disease were significant predictors for poor prognosis in stage I patients. All the benign and most of the LMP (81%) tumours were in either the p53-negative or low p53-positive category, but nearly half of the malignant tumours had high p53 expression. High p53 accumulation was found in non-mucinous, high grade and late stage tumours. For well-differentiated carcinomas, high p53 expression was a predictor of poor prognosis. However, even though high p53 expression was not associated with histological subtype, stage or the presence of residual disease, high p53 expression was not an independent predictor when all clinical parameters were combined. For all ovarian cancers, a close correlation was found between high p53 and high p16 expression. The relationship between the expression of pRB and p16 depended on tumour stage. In stage I tumours, high pRB was associated with low p16 reactivity. On the other hand, most advanced tumours showed both high pRB and high p16 reactivity.

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