Little is known about the factors regulating epithelial ovarian cancer cell growth. This is due, in large part, to the difficulty in obtaining and culturing human ovarian cells for relevant in vitro studies. We recently developed a method for culturing epithelial carcinoma cells derived from fresh, untreated epithelial ovarian cancer specimens. The cell populations are free of fibroblasts and reflect the primary tumor as determined by chromosomal analysis. In this study we report on the cells' growth in serum-free medium and their secretion of CA-125, a glycoprotein marker for ovarian cancer. Furthermore we characterize the insulin-like growth factor (IGF) system in these primary ovarian carcinoma cell cultures. The cells secrete IGF peptides and IGF-binding proteins, possess specific type I IGF receptors, and respond to exogenous IGFs. The culture system reported here provides the basis for further study and manipulation of the IGF system as well as other regulators of epithelial ovarian cancer. Greater understanding of the cellular and molecular mediators of primary human ovarian cancer cell growth may translate into relevant clinical interventions.
Copyright 1998 Academic Press.