Aberrant Expression of Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase in Ovarian Carcinoma Independent of Gene Rearrangement

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Ovarian carcinoma is the leading cause of death from gynecologic malignancies. The oncogenic role of anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) is well characterized in many hematopoietic and solid tumors. ALK expression in ovarian carcinoma has been reported but the exact status of ALK protein and its association with clinicopathologic features requires further investigation. ALK expression was determined by immunohistochemistry in 110 primary ovarian carcinomas, including 85 cases of serous carcinoma and 25 cases of mucinous carcinoma. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) were used for evaluating ALK translocation in ALK-positive ovarian carcinomas. Among 110 ovarian carcinomas, 23 (20.9%) cases were ALK positive by immunohistochemistry. All ALK-positive cases were ovarian high-grade serous carcinoma. ALK expression was detected in 23/85 (27.1%) ovarian serous carcinoma and 0/25 (0%) in ovarian mucinous carcinoma. None of the 23 ALK IHC-positive cases harbored ALK gene translocations by FISH or RT-PCR. ALK protein expression was associated with patient age, tumor stage, and histologic type. Specifically, the probability of ALK protein expression was significantly higher in high-grade serous carcinomas in older patients (above 50 y) with advanced disease (FIGO stage III and IV) compared with the low-grade serous and mucinous carcinomas in younger patients with relatively early disease. In conclusion, aberrant ALK expression is observed in ovarian serous carcinoma but not in mucinous carcinoma, is independent of gene translocation, and might be associated with progression and prognosis.

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