Commonly Occurring Cell Subsets in High-Grade Serous Ovarian Tumors Identified by Single-Cell Mass Cytometry

Cell Rep. 2018 Feb 13;22(7):1875-1888. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2018.01.053.


We have performed an in-depth single-cell phenotypic characterization of high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC) by multiparametric mass cytometry (CyTOF). Using a CyTOF antibody panel to interrogate features of HGSOC biology, combined with unsupervised computational analysis, we identified noteworthy cell types co-occurring across the tumors. In addition to a dominant cell subset, each tumor harbored rarer cell phenotypes. One such group co-expressed E-cadherin and vimentin (EV), suggesting their potential role in epithelial mesenchymal transition, which was substantiated by pairwise correlation analyses. Furthermore, tumors from patients with poorer outcome had an increased frequency of another rare cell type that co-expressed vimentin, HE4, and cMyc. These poorer-outcome tumors also populated more cell phenotypes, as quantified by Simpson's diversity index. Thus, despite the recognized genomic complexity of the disease, the specific cell phenotypes uncovered here offer a focus for therapeutic intervention and disease monitoring.

Keywords: CyTOF; HE4; cMyc; heterogeneity; hierarchical clustering; high grade serious ovarian cancer; mass cytometry; phenotypic characterization; relapse; single cell.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antibodies, Neoplasm / metabolism
  • Carboplatin / pharmacology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Serous / metabolism
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Serous / pathology
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / drug effects
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry / methods*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Phenotype
  • Prognosis


  • Antibodies, Neoplasm
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Carboplatin