Objective: The regulation of the metastatic process in epithelial ovarian cancer has not been well defined. Similar to other tumor types, the angiogenic phenotype in ovarian cancer strongly influences clinical outcome, suggesting that the acquisition of a pro-angiogenic environment is essential to the process of ovarian cancer proliferation and metastasis. Thrombospondin-1 (TSP-1) is a potent peptide shown in other tumor systems to be associated with angiogenesis and possibly regulated by p53, a gene which is mutated in as high as 50% of advanced ovarian cancers. The purpose of this study was to investigate TSP-1 expression in invasive epithelial ovarian cancer and to examine the relationship between TSP-1 expression and the degree of angiogenesis. In addition, we examined whether TSP-1 expression was associated with overexpression of p53.
Methods: Frozen sections obtained from 85 patients with invasive epithelial ovarian cancer were examined immunohistochemically for expression of TSP-1 and p53. The sections were examined microscopically by two investigators, who were blinded to the clinicopathologic variables. Outcome variables included the correlation among TSP-1, angiogenesis, and p53, as well as the association between TSP-1 expression and survival.
Results: The majority (62%) of cases demonstrated high levels (3+) of TSP-1 expression; 7% demonstrated no TSP-1 expression. p53 was overexpressed in 55% of cases, and expression was inversely correlated with TSP-1 staining. Thirteen cancers had 0 or 1+ TSP-1 staining; 12 (92%) of these overexpressed the p53 protein. In contrast, only 49% of tumors with high expression of TSP-1 have overexpression of p53 (P = 0.02). TSP-1 was suggestive for improved survival in patients with advanced disease; high TSP-1 expression was associated with a median survival of 2.4 years compared to 1.5 years for patients with tumors having a lower degree of TSP-1 expression (P = 0.06).
Conclusion: These data suggest that TSP-1 may possess a tumor inhibitory function in patients with advanced epithelial ovarian carcinoma. The reduction of TSP-1 expression associated with overexpression of p53 may be coupled with the development of a pro-angiogenic environment and malignant phenotype.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.