Objective: The histologically bland-appearing epithelium of the human ovary is responsible for approximately 90% of ovarian cancers. Capitalizing on our ability to propagate this tissue in vitro, we have begun to characterize the steroid hormone responsiveness of the human ovarian surface epithelium.
Study design: Primary cultures of the human ovarian surface epithelium are characterized as normal epithelium on the basis of morphologic features, normal karyotype, and immunohistochemistry demonstrating AE1/AE3 cytokeratin positivity and factor VIII negativity. Estrogen and progestin receptors were quantitatively analyzed with a standard receptor-ligand binding assay. Cellular proliferation in response to 1 x 10(-7) mol/L 17 beta-estradiol, progesterone, dihydrotestosterone, and dexamethasone were assessed by means of cell counts and a tetrazolium-based colorimetric assay.
Results: Scatchard analyses identified 8.8 x 10(3) estrogen receptors per cell in the premenopausal human ovarian surface epithelium cells, whereas the postmenopausal cells were negative for estrogen receptors. A total of 3.2 to 13.0 x 10(3) progestin receptors per cell was identified, with variable progestin receptor expression in the postmenopausal cells. No significant effect on cell growth could be demonstrated as a result of any of the steroid hormones investigated under the study conditions.
Conclusions: Expression of estrogen and progestin receptors in human ovarian surface epithelium cells may be related to menopausal status. Steroid hormones, however, did not influence cell proliferation under these experimental conditions.