Objective(s): The poor prognosis associated with ovarian cancer is due to the lack of overt early symptoms and the absence of reliable diagnostic screening methods. Since many tumors overexpress anti-apoptotic proteins, the purpose of this study was to determine whether elevated levels of the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2 were present in urine from patients with ovarian cancer.
Methods: Bcl-2 was assayed by ELISA in urine samples from two cohorts consisting of a total of 77 healthy women, 161 women with benign gynecologic disease and 150 women with ovarian cancer, 13 with early and 137 with late stage disease, respectively. Wherever possible, parallel serum samples were measured for CA125 levels by ELISA.
Results: Urinary levels of Bcl-2 from healthy individuals or women with benign disease averaged 0.59 ng/ml+/-0.61 and 1.12 ng/ml+/-0.79, respectively. In contrast, urinary levels of Bcl-2 averaged 2.60 ng/ml+/-2.23 and 3.58 ng/ml+/-1.55 from women with early (N=13) and late (N=137) stage ovarian cancer. Further, urinary levels of Bcl-2 were elevated in ovarian cancer patients regardless of tumor grade, stage, size, histologic subtype, creatinine levels or patient age, but appeared to complement CA125 measurements.
Conclusion(s): Levels of Bcl-2 are elevated in the urine of patients with ovarian cancer and may be of diagnostic and/or prognostic clinical importance. Further studies of urinary Bcl-2 as a biomarker for ovarian cancer alone or in combination with other markers are warranted.