Antibodies reactive with the protein core of MUC1 mucin are present in ovarian cancer patients and healthy women

Cancer Immunol Immunother. 1998 Jul;46(5):245-52. doi: 10.1007/s002620050484.


Antibodies reactive with peptide epitopes on the core protein of MUC1 epithelial mucin have been demonstrated in some patients with adenocarcinomas. Because these epitopes can be exposed on MUC1 in the serum of healthy women, we measured concentrations of MUC1-reactive antibodies in the serum of healthy pregnant and non-pregnant women, and in patients with benign and malignant ovarian tumours. Antibodies were measured in an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay utilising a synthetic peptide corresponding to a 105-amino-acid segment of the MUC1 tandem repeat region (5.25 repeats). MUC1-reactive antibodies were always of an IgM isotype and concentrations were highest in young healthy women and declined progressively with age (P=0.0006) concomitantly with increasing serum MUC1 levels (P=0.003). Regardless of age, antibody levels were lower in cancer patients than in healthy women (P<0.0001), but MUC1 levels were much higher in cancer patients (P<0.0001). Although high antibody levels were associated with greater survival in ovarian cancer (P=0.015), multivariate regression analysis showed that this was not a significant independent prognostic indicator after consideration of the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) stage, histological type, serum MUC1 levels and age. Serial measurement of MUC1 and MUC1 antibodies during treatment in 18 patients with ovarian cancer and throughout pregnancy in 10 women showed a negative correlation between alterations in MUC1 and MUC1 antibodies. These results show that MUC1-peptide-reactive antibodies are present in the serum of healthy women and women with cancer and that they probably form immune complexes with MUC1, but provide no evidence for an augmentation of the humoral immune response to MUC1 in ovarian cancer

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Antibodies / blood*
  • Antibodies / immunology
  • Antibodies, Neoplasm / blood*
  • Antibodies, Neoplasm / immunology
  • Antibody Specificity
  • Antigen-Antibody Complex / blood
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / blood
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Epitopes / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin M / blood*
  • Immunoglobulin M / immunology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mucin-1 / blood*
  • Mucin-1 / immunology
  • Ovarian Diseases / blood
  • Ovarian Diseases / immunology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / blood*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / immunology
  • Pregnancy
  • Prognosis
  • Repetitive Sequences, Nucleic Acid


  • Antibodies
  • Antibodies, Neoplasm
  • Antigen-Antibody Complex
  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Epitopes
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Mucin-1