Human cytomegalovirus in high grade serous ovarian cancer possible implications for patients survival

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Patients diagnosed with high grade serous ovarian adenocarcinoma have a poor prognosis. Recently human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) has been detected in several tumors. Here, we evaluated HCMV in ovarian cancer tissue specimens obtained at pre- and postchemotherapy tumor resection.

Available paraffin embedded ovarian cancer tissues from matched pre- and postchemotherapy tumor resection specimens (i.e., diagnostic excisional biopsy prechemotherapy; DEBPC) and neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by interval debulking surgery (NACT + IDS) from 10 patients with stage IIIC-IV high grade serous ovarian carcinoma (HGS) diagnosed between years 2007 and 2008 at Karolinska University Hospital were examined for HCMV immediate-early protein (HCMV-IE), tegument protein pp65, and nucleic acid (β2.7) by immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization.

HCMV-IE and pp65 were detected in 8/10 (80%), 4/9 (44%) and in 4/10 (40%), 5/8 in ovarian cancer tissue specimens from DEBPC and NACT + IDS, respectively. HCMV-β2.7 was detected in all available tissue sections obtained from DEBPC and NACT + IDS. Patients with HCMV-IE or pp65 positive cells in their ovarian tumors at IDS after NACT had a median overall survival of 23.4 and 18.2 months, respectively, compared to 29.6 and 54 months, respectively, in those who did not express HCMV proteins in their tumors.

In conclusion, HCMV proteins and nucleic acids are frequently detected at different levels in HGS ovarian carcinoma. Despite the limitation of our study, shorter median overall survival of patients with HCMV-IE and pp65 in their tumor highlights the need to further investigate the role of HCMV in ovarian cancer patients.

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