Background: MUC1 is associated with cellular transformation and tumorigenicity and is considered as an important tumor-associated antigen (TAA) for cancer therapy. The objective of this study was to evaluate the patterns of MUC1 expression in primary tumors and metastatic lesions in the advanced stages of epithelial ovarian cancers (EOCs) and correlate the expression with clinicopathological features.
Methods: The expression of MUC1 was examined on frozen tissue sections from primary EOC (n=42), the matched metastatic lesions (n=30) and paraffin-embedded tissue sections from primary EOC (n=60), normal ovarian tissues (n=20) using immunohistochemistry (IHC) by monoclonal antibody (MAb) C595.
Results: The expression of MUC1 was found in 92% (39/42) of EOC and 90% (27/30) of the matched metastatic lesions in frozen tissue sections respectively while the expression of MUC1 was found in 95% (57/60) of EOC and 5% (1/20) of normal ovarian tissues in paraffin-embedded sections respectively. Most of the tumors showed moderate to strong intensity staining while normal ovarian tissues only showed weak intensity staining. The overexpression of MUC1 was significantly associated with various progression parameters such as tumor stage, grade, residual disease status and presence of ascites (P<0.05).
Conclusions: MUC1 is overexpressed in above 90% of late stage of EOC and of metastatic lesions but not in normal ovarian tissues, and the high expression of MUC1 is correlated with EOC progression. MUC1 antigen may be a useful therapeutic target to prevent the development of incurable, recurrent metastatic EOC.