Immunohistochemical patterns for alpha- and beta-catenin, E- and N-cadherin expression in ovarian epithelial tumors

Gynecol Oncol. 2004 Jul;94(1):16-24. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2004.03.037.


Objectives: This study aims were to analyze and compare the E- and N-cadherin, beta- and alpha-catenin expression in benign and malignant epithelial neoplasms of the ovary, correlating with tumor staging, histological grade, and presence of metastases during evolution.

Methods: Immunohistochemical reactions were performed on paraffin-embedded tissues and evaluated according to the number of positive, stained cellular structures and reaction intensity for each molecule. Information about histological type and grade, tumoral stage, and disease evolution was obtained from the patients' clinical records.

Results: Most of the carcinomas showed more intense beta-catenin reaction (P = 0.02). More than 50% of the endometrioid carcinomas showed increased beta-catenin expression, with a large number of positive cells and more intense staining, being the same also observed for most of the serous benign tumors (P < 0.01). E-cadherin membrane expression was frequently observed in carcinomas without metastasis, whereas cases with metastases in evolution were negative or showing E-cadherin expression only in the cytoplasm (P = 0.04). N-cadherin expression differed according to histological type and grade and alpha-catenin was also related to histological type, but these findings were not conclusive.

Conclusions: Increased beta-catenin expression was more frequent in ovarian carcinomas, especially, but not only, in the endometrioid ones. The maintenance of E-cadherin expression in cellular membrane may be an independent marker of good prognosis in ovarian cancer. New studies about N-cadherin and alpha-catenin and their importance during ovarian carcinogenesis will be required.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Adenoma / metabolism
  • Adenoma / pathology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cadherins / biosynthesis*
  • Carcinoma, Endometrioid / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Endometrioid / pathology
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Epithelial Cells / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Trans-Activators / biosynthesis*
  • alpha Catenin
  • beta Catenin


  • CTNNA1 protein, human
  • CTNNB1 protein, human
  • Cadherins
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Trans-Activators
  • alpha Catenin
  • beta Catenin