Dysplastic changes in prophylactically removed Fallopian tubes of women predisposed to developing ovarian cancer

J Pathol. 2001 Nov;195(4):451-6. doi: 10.1002/path.1000.


The aim of this study was to investigate the occurrence of (pre)neoplastic lesions in overtly normal Fallopian tubes from women predisposed to developing ovarian carcinoma. The presence of (pre)neoplastic lesions was scored in histological specimens from 12 women with a genetically determined predisposition for ovarian cancer, of whom seven tested positive for a germline BRCA1 mutation. A control group included 13 women. Immunohistochemistry was used to determine the expression of p21, p27, p53, cyclin A, cyclin D1, bcl-2, Ki67, HER-2/neu, and the oestrogen and progesterone receptors. Loss of heterozygosity (LOH) analysis on the BRCA1 locus was also assessed on dysplastic tissue by PCR studies. Of the 12 women with a predisposition for ovarian cancer, six showed dysplasia, including one case of severe dysplasia. Five harboured hyperplastic lesions and in one woman no histological aberrations were found in the Fallopian tube. No hyperplastic, dysplastic or neoplastic lesions were detected in the Fallopian tubes of control subjects. In the cases studied, morphologically normal tubal epithelium contained a higher proportion of Ki67-expressing cells (p=0.005) and lower fractions of cells expressing p21 (p<0.0001) and p27 (p=0.006) than in the control group. Even higher fractions of proliferating cells were found in dysplastic areas (p=0.07) and accumulation of p53 was observed in the severely dysplastic lesion. Expression patterns of other proteins studied, including the hormone receptors, were similar in cases and controls. One subject, a germline BRCA1 mutation carrier, showed loss of the wild-type BRCA1 allele in the severely dysplastic lesion. In conclusion, the Fallopian tubes of women predisposed to developing ovarian cancer frequently harbour dysplastic changes, accompanied by changes in cell-cycle and apoptosis-related proteins, indicating an increased risk of developing tubal cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cyclin A / metabolism
  • Cyclin D1 / metabolism
  • Fallopian Tubes / pathology*
  • Female
  • Genes, BRCA1 / physiology
  • Genes, bcl-2 / physiology
  • Humans
  • Ki-67 Antigen / metabolism
  • Loss of Heterozygosity
  • Middle Aged
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Precancerous Conditions / genetics
  • Precancerous Conditions / pathology*
  • Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen / metabolism
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism
  • Receptors, Progesterone / metabolism
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism


  • Cyclin A
  • Ki-67 Antigen
  • Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptors, Progesterone
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • p27 antigen
  • Cyclin D1
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins