Emerging Role of Nestin as an Angiogenesis and Cancer Stem Cell Marker in Epithelial Ovarian Cancer: Immunohistochemical Study

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Abstract

Ovarian cancer is the most fatal gynecologic malignancy and the existing second-line treatments have not been confirmed to be effective. Cancer stem cells research has a leading role to explore promising therapeutic applications. Nestin was postulated to reflect cancer stem cell properties in various tumors, correlating with poor prognosis. Furthermore, nestin is proposed as a reliable neovascularization marker. This study aimed to elucidate the status of nestin expression in various epithelial ovarian cancers (EOCs), its neoangiogenic properties, and investigate its potential association with clinicopathologic parameters. A total of 80 primary EOCs (37 serous, 20 Mucinous, 13 endometrioid, and 10 clear cell carcinomas) were immunohistochemically stained with nestin. Staining intensity and automated microvascular density (MVD) were assessed. Positive nestin expression was defined in ≈47.5% of all EOC; more commonly in ≈60% of the serous tumors. It was noticeably expressed in tumor spheroids. Nestin expression significantly correlated with overall tumor grade, lymph node, distant metastasis, and stage. Nestin+ neoangiogenesis was detectable in all cases (average=60.1). The nestin expression in tumor cells significantly correlated with Nestin+/MVD. The average Nestin+/MVD was significantly an independent predictor of high tumor stage. As a stem cell marker, nestin is expressed in cells of EOC including those growing as spherules and correlated with poor prognosis. Thus, nestin may be a novel therapeutic target for tumor angiogenesis and a combination therapy that includes nestin-targeting agents may be an effective therapeutic approach. In addition, detection of Nestin+/stem cells and Nestin+/MVD can be used as predictors of disease.

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