Proliferation in the normal FTE is a hallmark of the follicular phase, not BRCA mutation status

Clin Cancer Res. 2012 Nov 15;18(22):6199-207. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-12-2155. Epub 2012 Sep 11.


Purpose: Women who have inherited germline mutations of BRCA1/BRCA2 are at increased risk of developing high-grade serous carcinoma, and many of these cancers arise in the distal fimbriated end of the fallopian tube. We have previously shown that the fallopian tube epithelia of BRCA1 mutation carriers (FTE-BRCA) have altered signaling pathways compared to nonmutation carriers. In this study, we sought to determine whether these differences result in a proliferative advantage to the epithelia in this high-risk patient population and to investigate whether the postovulation environment of the FTE-BRCA compared to FTE from nonmutation carriers experiences a differential abundance of immune cells.

Method: Immunohistochemistry for Ki67, CD3, CD8, CD20, and CD68 was performed on histologically normal tubal epithelium (ampulla, n = 83), fimbria (n = 18) with known ovarian cycle status and germline mutation status and for Ki67 on fimbrial epithelium from women (n = 144) with and without BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations who underwent risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy (RRSO). Serous tubal intraepithelial carcinomas (STIC) with concomitant cancer (n = 15) were also analyzed for presence of immune infiltrates. All slides were digitized and analyzed using automated image analysis software.

Results: There was no significant difference in the proliferative index in histologically normal FTE between BRCA1/BRCA2 and non-BRCA, in 144 fimbriae and 83 ampullae. The FTE-BRCA1 epithelia did not exhibit a differential presence of lymphocytes or macrophages, however more macrophages were present in the luteal phase compared to the follicular phase epithelia. In STICs macrophages were more abundant than lymphocytes with an incremental increase noted with disease progression.

Conclusions: BRCA1/2 mutation carriers exhibited no significant increase in proliferation in the fallopian tube epithelial cells either in the ampulla or fimbriated ends of the tube. Rather, a significant proliferative increase was defined in the cases determined to be in the follicular, or proliferative, preovulatory phase of the ovarian cycle. Finally, we also show an incremental increase in leukocytes invading the STICs and HGSC, implicating a possible role of the leukocytes early in the progression or inhibition of tumor formation, which is independent of ovarian cycle status.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma in Situ / genetics
  • Carcinoma in Situ / immunology
  • Carcinoma in Situ / pathology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cell Proliferation*
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Epithelium / physiology
  • Fallopian Tube Neoplasms / genetics
  • Fallopian Tube Neoplasms / immunology
  • Fallopian Tube Neoplasms / pathology
  • Fallopian Tubes / immunology
  • Fallopian Tubes / metabolism
  • Fallopian Tubes / pathology*
  • Female
  • Follicular Phase*
  • Genes, BRCA1*
  • Genes, BRCA2*
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Ki-67 Antigen / metabolism
  • Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation*
  • Transcriptome


  • Ki-67 Antigen