Gonadotropins and ovarian carcinogenesis: a new era of basic research and its clinical implications

Int J Gynecol Cancer. Jan-Feb 2006;16(1):16-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1438.2006.00425.x.


The possible relationship between gonadotropins and ovarian carcinoma development has received much attention, and in recent years, great progress has been made in basic and epidemiologic research about this issue. Gonadotropins sensitivity in the ovarian surface epithelium (OSE) and in a subset of ovarian carcinomas has been established in vivo and in vitro. Gonadotropins have been shown to induce various biologic actions in the OSE and ovarian carcinoma cells, such as changes in cell proliferation, apoptosis, cell adhesion, and chemosensitivity. These basic studies strongly suggest that gonadotropins are involved in the development and progression of ovarian carcinoma. In contrast, although earlier studies showed a significant risk of infertility therapy for ovarian carcinoma development, subsequent studies reported only slightly increased or no significant increased risk of gonadotropin stimulation and/or assisted reproductive technologies for ovarian carcinoma development. Therefore, the association between ovarian stimulation and ovarian carcinoma remains controversial. Nevertheless, since development of ovarian carcinoma in infertile women during infertility treatment is a serious concern for gynecologists, this review also covers important points for clinical practice, especially the issue of early detection of ovarian carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Biomedical Research
  • Carcinoma / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma / etiology*
  • Carcinoma / pathology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / pathology*
  • Chorionic Gonadotropin / analysis
  • Chorionic Gonadotropin / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Luteinizing Hormone / metabolism
  • Oocytes / pathology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Rats
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Chorionic Gonadotropin
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone