Expression of epithelial–mesenchymal transition-related markers E-cadherin and vimentin in ovarian serous carcinomas: correlation with transforming growth factor-β1 expression and clinicopathological factors

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In advanced stages of ovarian carcinomas, cancer cells become aggressive and invasive because of the pathologic initiation of an epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT). In EMT, epithelial cells detach from the surrounding tissue and acquire a unique motile, spindle shape characteristic of mesenchymal cells. Transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1)-induced EMT is believed to play an important role in regulation of cell invasion and metastasis of epithelial ovarian cancer.

Materials and methods

In the present study, we examined the immunohistochemical expression and localization of EMT-related markers, E-cadherin and vimentin, and its correlation with TGF-β1 expression and clinicopathological factors in 42 specimens of paraffin-embedded sections of ovarian serous carcinomas (OSCs).


Loss of E-cadherin immunoreaction was significantly correlated with the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics classification (FIGO) stage (P=0.012). Vimentin expression was detected in most cases (79%), especially at the invasive margin, with significant correlation with tumor grade (P=0.017) and FIGO stage (P=0.0001). However, neither marker showed significant difference on the basis of patient age, capsule rupture, and lymphovascular invasion (P>0.05). TGF-β1 expression was significantly correlated with E-cadherin-negative/vimentin-positive OSCs (P=0.0001) compared with E-cadherin-positive/vimentin-negative tumors (P=0.411).


EMT process (loss of E-cadherin and expression of vimentin) is associated with progression and invasion of OSCs. TGF-β1 may enhance the invasiveness of OSCs through induction of EMT.

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