Purpose: Ovarian clear cell adenocarcinoma (OCCA) is an uncommon histotype that is generally refractory to platinum-based chemotherapy. We analyze here the most comprehensive gene expression and copy number data sets, to date, to identify potential therapeutic targets of OCCA.
Experimental design: Gene expression and DNA copy number were carried out using primary human OCCA tumor samples, and findings were confirmed by immunohistochemistry on tissue microarrays. Circulating interleukin (IL) 6 levels were measured in serum from patients with OCCA or high-grade serous cancers and related to progression-free and overall survival. Two patients were treated with sunitinib, and their therapeutic responses were measured clinically and by positron emission tomography.
Results: We find specific overexpression of the IL6-STAT3-HIF (interleukin 6-signal transducer and activator of transcription 3-hypoxia induced factor) pathway in OCCA tumors compared with high-grade serous cancers. Expression of PTHLH and high levels of circulating IL6 in OCCA patients may explain the frequent occurrence of hypercalcemia of malignancy and thromboembolic events in OCCA. We describe amplification of several receptor tyrosine kinases, most notably MET, suggesting other potential therapeutic targets. We report sustained clinical and functional imaging responses in two OCCA patients with chemotherapy-resistant disease who were treated with sunitinib, thus showing significant parallels with renal clear cell cancer.
Conclusions: Our findings highlight important therapeutic targets in OCCA, suggest that more extensive clinical trials with sunitinib in OCCA are warranted, and provide significant impetus to the growing realization that OCCA is molecularly and clinically distinct to other forms of ovarian cancer.