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Cancer. 1994 Mar 15;73(6):1686-92.

Observations on tumor and metastatic suppressor gene status in endometrial carcinoma with particular emphasis on p53.

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Department of Pathology, Albany Medical College, NY 12208.



Genetic changes in the development of endometrial carcinoma have not been characterized, and little is known of tumor or metastatic suppressor gene status in these malignancies. The current study on endometrioid carcinoma was undertaken to examine the status of two tumor suppressor genes that frequently have been found to be altered in human malignancies (the p53 gene and the retinoblastoma [Rb] gene) and to examine the status of the candidate metastatic suppressor gene, nm23-H1.


The status of the p53 gene was studied by immunohistochemistry of formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded biopsy samples from 72 patients with atypical endometrial hyperplasia or endometrioid carcinoma who underwent hysterectomy immediately after biopsy and from 5 patients with benign endometria. A search for loss of heterozygosity (LOH) of the nm23 gene after DNA extraction from frozen tissues and hybridization with nm23-H1 cDNA specific probe was made in 10 endometrial carcinomas. Rb gene status was evaluated by image analysis quantification of immunoreactive retinoblastoma protein in frozen sections of 10 carcinomas and 2 benign endometria.


p53 expression was low in all benign endometria, but high expression was found in 2 (15%) of 13 atypical hyperplasias and in 23 (39%) of 59 carcinomas. High levels of p53 expression in endometrioid carcinoma correlated with the spread of disease outside of the uterus and by logistic regression, the presence of squamous differentiation, nuclear grade, and high p53 expression in the biopsy all independently correlated with spread of disease outside of the uterus. Although 7 of the 10 carcinomas studied were informative, LOH for the nm23 gene was not seen in any, including a site of metastasis. Rb protein expression in endometrial carcinoma was similar to expression in benign endometria.


Although this study found no evidence of nm23-H1 gene alteration or alterations in Rb protein levels in endometrial carcinoma, high expression of p53 protein was sporadically identified in biopsy specimens of atypical hyperplasia and frequently found in endometrioid carcinomas. Determination of p53 expression in combination with the presence or absence of squamous differentiation and nuclear grade in biopsy material may help predict spread of endometrioid carcinoma outside the uterus and facilitate therapeutic planning before hysterectomy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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