Gap junctional intercellular communication and connexin 43 expression in ovarian carcinoma

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2000 May;182(5):999-1000. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9378(00)70135-9.


Objectives: Gap junctions, which are composed of subunits termed connexins, are plasma membrane channels that link the interior of adjacent cells and permit cells to directly exchange small molecules and ions. Loss or dysfunction of gap junctions appears to be important in allowing cancer cells to escape growth regulation. In a previous study we showed that human ovarian surface epithelial cells exhibited extensive gap junctions and expression of connexin 43. These were nearly absent in human ovarian adenocarcinoma cell lines. To ensure that this variation was not artificially produced by culturing techniques, this study evaluated gap junctions and connexin 43 expressions in normal ovaries and in ovarian adenocarcinomas.

Study design: Specimens of normal ovaries and ovarian adenocarcinomas were obtained at the time of surgery and flash-frozen in liquid nitrogen. Connexin 43 immunostaining was performed on all specimens.

Results: Among the 11 normal ovaries an average of 59% of the surface epithelium stained positively for connexin 43. In contrast, among the 10 ovarian adenocarcinomas only 19% of each specimen stained positively for connexin 43 (P =.01).

Conclusion: Similar to our studies on human ovarian surface epithelial cells and ovarian adenocarcinoma cell lines, surgical specimens of normal ovary exhibited extensive connexin 43 expression, whereas connexin 43 expression was nearly absent in ovarian adenocarcinomas. It thus appears that the previously reported loss of gap junctions and connexin 43 was actually associated with a neoplastic process, rather than being artificially induced in the laboratory.

MeSH terms

  • Connexin 43 / analysis*
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Serous / chemistry*
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Serous / ultrastructure*
  • Epithelium / chemistry
  • Female
  • Gap Junctions*
  • Humans
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / chemistry*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / ultrastructure*
  • Ovary / chemistry
  • Ovary / ultrastructure


  • Connexin 43