Inhibin-alpha subunit is an independent prognostic parameter in human endometrial carcinomas: analysis of inhibin/activin-alpha, -betaA and -betaB subunits in 302 cases

Eur J Cancer. 2009 May;45(7):1304-1314. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2009.01.008. Epub 2009 Feb 21.


Inhibins are dimeric glycoproteins, composed of an alpha-subunit (inhibin-alpha) and one of two possible beta-subunits (betaA or betaB), with substantial roles in human reproduction and in endocrine-responsive tumours. The aims of this study were to determine the distribution of inhibin-alpha, -betaA and -betaB subunits in malignant human endometrial tissue and the assessment of an association with specific clinicopathologic tumour features and clinical outcome. A series of 302 endometrial cancer tissue samples were immunohistochemically analysed with monoclonal antibodies against inhibin subunits. The inhibin-alpha subunit showed a significant association with histological grading, surgical staging, lymph node status and diabetes in patients with endometrial cancer. Interestingly, loss of inhibin-alpha expression resulted in a poorer survival of endometrial cancer patients. Additionally, survival analysis demonstrated that inhibin-alpha immunoreactivity was an independent prognostic factor for progression-free survival, cause-specific survival as well as for overall survival. In contrast, although inhibin-betaA- and -betaB subunits showed a significant association between endometrial histological subtypes and histological grading, both subunits were not found to be associated with survival in endometrial cancer patients. Therefore, inhibin-alpha immunostaining might be used as a simple and efficient marker to identify high-risk patients leading to the selection of patients for an aggressive adjuvant therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Carcinoma / chemistry*
  • Carcinoma / mortality
  • Carcinoma / pathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / chemistry*
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / mortality
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Inhibin-beta Subunits / analysis
  • Inhibins / analysis*
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Survival Analysis


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • INHBB protein, human
  • inhibin beta A subunit
  • inhibin-alpha subunit
  • Inhibins
  • Inhibin-beta Subunits