Steroid receptors and Ki-67 reactivity in ovarian cancer and in normal ovary: correlation with DNA flow cytometry, biochemical receptor assay, and patient survival

J Pathol. 1990 Dec;162(4):295-301. doi: 10.1002/path.1711620404.


Steroid hormone receptors and reactivity for Ki-67 proliferation antigen were studied immunohistochemically in non-neoplastic post-menopausal human ovary and in 29 ovarian cancers. In the normal ovary, oestrogen (OR) and progesterone receptors (PR) were found in the surface epithelium and PR also in the ovarian stroma. Of the ovarian carcinomas 38 per cent (11/29) contained OR and 69 per cent (20/29) PR. Oestrogen receptor expression was confined to malignant cells, whereas PR was present occasionally also in the tumour stroma. In most cases, ORs and PRs were found only in a small population of cancer cells. The growth fractions assessed by the percentage of Ki-67-positive cells ranged from 1 to 59 per cent (mean 19.7 per cent) with a significant correlation (r = 0.74, P less than 0.0001) to S-phase values (mean 12.9 per cent, range 1.2-25.9 per cent) determined by DNA flow cytometry. High Ki-67 (greater than or equal to 15 per cent) and S-phase levels (greater than or equal to 7.5 per cent) correlated with advanced disease stage and patient survival but not with OR or PR status, suggesting that hormone-receptor pathways and proliferative activity are not related in ovarian cancer. Positive OR status, however, identified patients with a better prognosis (P = 0.02), suggesting a correlation with tumour differentiation. The independent prognostic value of oestrogen receptor status and Ki-67 remains to be determined, but the prognostic impact of Ki-67 was comparable to that of S-phase values.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antigens, Surface / metabolism*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • DNA, Neoplasm / analysis
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Ki-67 Antigen
  • Middle Aged
  • Mitosis
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / immunology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / mortality
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Ovary / chemistry
  • Ovary / metabolism*
  • Prognosis
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Progesterone / metabolism*


  • Antigens, Surface
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • Ki-67 Antigen
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptors, Progesterone