Background: Fatty acid synthase (FAS), a biosynthetic enzyme, normally functions in the liver to convert dietary carbohydrate to fat, but it is minimally expressed in most other normal adult tissues. FAS is expressed at markedly elevated levels in subsets of human breast, ovarian, and prostate carcinomas that are associated with poor prognoses. During the menstrual cycle, the expression of FAS in the human endometrium is closely linked to the expression of the proliferation antigen Ki-67, estrogen receptor (ER), and progesterone receptor (PR).
Methods: This study reports the expression patterns of these antigens in 35 endometrial carcinomas as determined by immunohistochemical analysis.
Results: All cases demonstrated a close direct correlation between FAS and Ki-67 expression. Average FAS expression levels were correlated with tumor grade. Twenty-five carcinomas that were positive for ER and PR showed close correlation in expression of FAS, Ki-67, and hormone receptors. Individual tumors displayed varying degrees of heterogeneity of expression. A few well-differentiated carcinomas showed very low expression of all four antigens, similar to the antigenic profile of secretory endometrium. Nine high grade carcinomas that were negative for ER and PR also showed close correlation in expression of FAS and Ki-67 with uniformly high expression.
Conclusions: These data suggest the following hypothesis: In hormone-dependent endometrial cells, FAS expression is part of the estrogen-driven cellular response that leads to proliferation; however, its linkage to proliferation is such that FAS expression is maintained in proliferating cells in endometrial carcinomas that acquire hormone independence. The use of these four antibodies as a panel may increase the diagnostic utility of ER and PR immunohistochemistry for tumor classification and prediction of the responsiveness of tumors to hormonal therapy.