High serum levels of follistatin in patients with ovarian cancer

J Int Med Res. 2012;40(3):877-86. doi: 10.1177/147323001204000306.


Objective: This study investigated the potential use of serum follistatin (FST) as a marker for ovarian cancer alongside serum cancer antigen-125 (CA-125).

Methods: Serum samples were collected from patients with ovarian cancer (n = 45), benign ovarian cysts (n = 40) or other cancers (n = 100) and from healthy subjects (n = 60) for the determination of FST and CA-125 levels using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. Expression of FST in ovarian tissue was investigated using immunohistochemical staining.

Results: Compared with healthy subjects and patients with benign ovarian cysts, serum FST and CA-125 levels were significantly increased in patients with ovarian cancer. Using the 95% confidence interval for the healthy subjects group as the cut-off value, tumour marker sensitivity and specificity in ovarian cancer were 53.3% and 97% for FST and 77.8% and 84% for CA-125, respectively. Tissue expression of FST protein was more pronounced in ovarian cancer than in normal ovary.

Conclusions: The serum FST level was elevated in the peripheral blood of patients with ovarian cancer and has potential as a tumour marker for ovarian cancer diagnosis. It may be particularly useful when combined with CA-125 detection to reduce the number of false-positive results.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood*
  • CA-125 Antigen / blood
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Follistatin / blood*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Middle Aged
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / blood*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • CA-125 Antigen
  • Follistatin