High glucocorticoid receptor expression predicts short progression-free survival in ovarian cancer

Gynecol Oncol. 2017 Jul;146(1):153-160. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2017.04.012. Epub 2017 Apr 26.


Objective: To investigate the association of tumor glucocorticoid receptor (GR) expression and patient outcome in ovarian cancer.

Methods: GR expression was evaluated by immunohistochemistry using tissue microarrays of specimens from 481 patients with ovarian cancer and 4 patients with benign conditions. Low GR expression was defined as an intensity of 0 or 1+ and high GR as 2+ or 3+ in >1% of tumor cells. Analyses were performed to evaluate the relationship of GR expression with clinical characteristics, progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS).

Results: GR protein was highly expressed in 133 of 341 (39.0%) tumors from patients who underwent upfront cytoreduction surgery followed by adjuvant chemotherapy. High GR expression was more common in serous tumors (p<0.001), high grade tumors (p<0.001), and advanced stage tumors (p=0.037). Median PFS was significantly decreased in cases with high GR (20.4months) compared to those with low GR (36.0months, HR=1.66, 95% CI 1.29-2.14, p<0.001). GR remained an independent prognostic factor for PFS in multivariate analysis. OS was not associated with GR status.

Conclusions: These data suggest that high GR expression correlates with poor prognosis and support the hypothesis that modulating GR activity in combination with chemotherapy may improve outcomes.

Keywords: Epithelial ovarian cancer; Glucocorticoid receptor; Hormone receptor; Survival; Tumor markers.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Ovarian Epithelial
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Grading
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / pathology
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / surgery
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / surgery
  • Prognosis
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid / biosynthesis*
  • Survival Rate
  • Young Adult


  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid