Development of a Multiprotein Classifier for the Detection of Early Stage Ovarian Cancer

Cancers (Basel). 2022 Jun 23;14(13):3077. doi: 10.3390/cancers14133077.


Background: Individual serum biomarkers are neither adequately sensitive nor specific for use in screening the general population for ovarian cancer. The purpose of this study was to develop a multiprotein classifier to detect the early stages of ovarian cancer, when it is most treatable.

Methods: The Olink Proseek Multiplex Oncology II panel was used to simultaneously quantify the expression levels of 92 cancer-related proteins in sera.

Results: In the discovery phase, we generated a multiprotein classifier that included CA125, HE4, ITGAV, and SEZ6L, based on an analysis of sera from 116 women with early stage ovarian cancer and 336 age-matched healthy women. CA125 alone achieved a sensitivity of 87.9% at a specificity of 95%, while the multiprotein classifier resulted in an increased sensitivity of 91.4%, while holding the specificity fixed at 95%. The performance of the multiprotein classifier was validated in a second cohort comprised of 192 women with early stage ovarian cancer and 467 age-matched healthy women. The sensitivity at 95% specificity increased from 74.5% (CA125 alone) to 79.2% with the multiprotein classifier. In addition, the multiprotein classifier had a sensitivity of 95.1% at 98% specificity for late stage ovarian cancer samples and correctly classified 80.5% of the benign samples using the 98% specificity cutpoint.

Conclusions: The inclusion of the proteins HE4, ITGAV, and SEZ6L improved the sensitivity and specificity of CA125 alone for the detection of early stages of ovarian cancer in serum samples. Furthermore, we identified several proteins that may be novel biomarkers of early stage ovarian cancer.

Keywords: early detection; ovarian cancer; protein biomarkers.