Objective: Epithelial ovarian cancer is the deadliest gynecologic malignancy, yet its molecular etiology remains poorly understood. Evidence is accumulating to support a role for the insulin-like growth factor family in human carcinogenesis, and recently using microarray expression analysis, we demonstrated over-expression of the insulin-like growth factor-2 (IGF-2) gene in advanced stage epithelial ovarian cancers. The purpose of the current study is to further elucidate the role of the IGF-2 gene in ovarian cancer development and progression.
Methods: Relative expression of IGF-2 was measured in 109 epithelial ovarian cancers and eight normal ovarian surface epithelial (NOSE) samples, using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. Associations with clinicopathological parameters were examined.
Results: Expression of the IGF-2 gene was more than 300-fold higher in ovarian cancers compared with normal ovarian surface epithelium samples (P <0.001). High IGF-2 expression was associated with advanced stage disease at diagnosis (P <0.001), high-grade cancers (P <0.05) and sub-optimal surgical cytoreduction (P = 0.08). In multivariate analysis, relative IGF-2 expression was an independent predictor of poor survival.
Conclusions: Expression of the IGF-2 gene is significantly higher in ovarian cancers relative to normal ovarian surface epithelium. Further, high IGF-2 gene expression is associated with high grade, advanced stage disease, and is an independent predictor of poor survival in patients with epithelial ovarian cancer. As such, IGF-2 is a molecular marker and potential therapeutic target for the most aggressive epithelial ovarian cancers.