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Prognostic significance of E-cadherin–catenin complex in epithelial ovarian cancer
  1. K A Voutilainen1,
  2. M A Anttila2,
  3. S M Sillanpää1,
  4. K M Ropponen1,
  5. S V Saarikoski2,
  6. M T Juhola3,
  7. V-M Kosma1
  1. 1Department of Pathology and Forensic Medicine, University of Kuopio and Kuopio University Hospital, Kuopio, Finland
  2. 2Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Kuopio University Hospital
  3. 3Department of Pathology, Jyväskylä Central Hospital, Jyväskylä, Finland
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr V-M Kosma
 Department of Pathology and Forensic Medicine, University of Kuopio and Kuopio University Hospital, PO Box 1627, FIN-70211 Kuopio, Finland; VeliMatti.Kosma{at}


Objective: To clarify the prognostic role of E-cadherin and β- and γ-catenins, and their relation to CD44 in epithelial ovarian carcinoma.

Methods: The expression of E-cadherin and β- and γ-catenins was analysed immunohistochemically in 305 primary epithelial ovarian cancers and 44 metastases, and related to CD44 expression, clinicopathological factors, and the patients’ survival.

Results: Reduced cell surface expression of E-cadherin, β-catenin, and γ-catenin was particularly frequent in serous and endometrioid histological types. Reduced cell surface expression of E-cadherin and β-catenin was also associated with poor differentiation. Nuclear positivity of β-catenin was associated with high CD44 expression, endometrioid histology, and local stage of the tumour, whereas nuclear γ-catenin expression was associated with serous histology and poor differentiation. In the univariate analysis, preserved cell surface β-catenin expression in the whole study material and nuclear expression of β- and γ-catenins in the subgroup of endometrioid ovarian cancers were predictors of better 10 year disease related survival. Preserved cell surface expression of E-cadherin and β-catenin predicted favourable recurrence-free survival. These statistical significances were not retained in multivariate analysis.

Conclusions: The correlation between nuclear β-catenin and CD44 indicates that β-catenin may regulate the transcription of CD44 in epithelial ovarian cancer. E-cadherin–catenin complex members are associated with the prognosis of patients with epithelial ovarian cancer, but these univariate associations were not strong enough to compete for significance with the traditional clinicopathological factors.

  • ABC, avidin-biotin-peroxidase complex
  • FIGO, International Federation of Gynecologists and Obstetricians
  • E-cadherin
  • β-catenin
  • γ-catenin
  • ovarian carcinoma
  • survival

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  • This study was supported by Finnish Cancer Foundation, The Finnish Medical Society Duodecim, The North Savo Cancer Fund, the EVO fund of Kuopio University Hospital, Kuopio University Fund, The Finnish Medical Foundation, Foundation for the Finnish Cancer Institute, and The Finnish Cultural Fund. The funding sources had no role in study design, data collection, analysis or interpretation, or the writing of the report.