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J Soc Gynecol Investig. 1997 Nov-Dec;4(6):298-304.

Induction of immune responses to ovarian tumor antigens by multiparity.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Louisville School of Medicine, KY 40202, USA.



Because epidemiologic data indicate a reduction in ovarian cancer risk with increased parity, the occurrence of maternal immunization against ovarian tumor-associated antigens during pregnancy was investigated.


Sera were obtained from nulligravid and multiparous women and from men. Cellular proteins were isolated from four ovarian tumor cell lines as well as from normal ovaries. These proteins were separated by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, and the presence of cellular proteins reactive with each individual's serum was assessed by Western immunoblot. Tumor-reactive antibodies from two multiparous women were used to prepare immunoaffinity columns for the isolation of reactive proteins from ovarian tumor cells. These immunoaffinity-purified antigens were transferred electrophoretically to nitrocellulose membranes, stained with Ponceau S, and identified by amino acid sequencing.


Western immunoblot analysis of the cellular proteins from four established ovarian tumor cell lines using sera from multiparous women as the primary antibody indicated that these samples recognized multiple bands on ovarian tumors, ranging from 30 to 150 kD. Two commonly recognized proteins were isolated and subjected to microsequencing, which identified the 56-kD band protein as elongation factor-1 alpha and the 38-kD protein as nucleophosmin/B23 protein. Both of these proteins play integral roles in cell growth.


These findings suggest that certain antigens expressed by the fetus immunize women during pregnancy. This immune response may protect these women from the subsequent development of cancer.

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