Prognostic value of cancer stem cell marker aldehyde dehydrogenase in ovarian cancer: a meta-analysis

PLoS One. 2013 Nov 25;8(11):e81050. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0081050. eCollection 2013.


Objective: Aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) has recently been reported as a marker of cancer stem-like cells in ovarian cancer. However, the prognostic role of ALDH in ovarian cancer still remains controversial. In this study, we aimed to evaluate the association between the expression of ALDH and the outcome of ovarian cancer patients by performing a meta-analysis.

Methods: We systematically searched for studies investigating the relationships between ALDH expression and outcome of ovarian cancer patients. Only articles in which ALDH expression was detected by immunohistochemical staining were included. A meta-analysis was performed to generate combined hazard ratios (HRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS).

Results: A total of 1,258 patients from 7 studies (6 articles) were included in the analysis. Our results showed that high ALDH expression in patients with ovarian cancer was associated with poor prognosis in terms of Os (HR, 1.25; 95% CI, 1.07-1.47; P = 0.005) and DFS (HR, 1.58; 95% CI, 1.00-2.49; P = 0.052), though the difference for DFS was not statistically significant. In addition, there was no evidence of publication bias as suggested by Begg's and Egger's tests (Begg's test, P = 0.707; Egger's test, P = 0.355).

Conclusion: The present meta-analysis indicated that elevated ALDH expression was associated with poor prognosis in patients with ovarian cancer.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aldehyde Dehydrogenase / metabolism*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / enzymology*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Prognosis
  • Publication Bias
  • Survival Analysis


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Aldehyde Dehydrogenase

Grant support

This work was supported by grant from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 81000922) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (No. 2010jdgz09). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.