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1.  Prognostic significance of IL-6 and IL-8 ascites levels in ovarian cancer patients 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:210.
The acellular fraction of epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) ascites promotes de novo resistance of tumor cells and thus supports the idea that tumor cells may survive in the surrounding protective microenvironment contributing to disease recurrence. Levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and IL-8 are elevated in EOC ascites suggesting that they could play a role in tumor progression.
We measured IL-6 and IL-8 levels in the ascites of 39 patients with newly diagnosed EOC. Commercially available enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was used to determine IL-6 and IL-8 ascites levels. Ascites cytokine levels were correlated with clinicopathological parameters and progression-free survival.
Mean ascites levels for IL-6 and IL-8 were 6419 pg/ml (SEM: 1409 pg/ml) and 1408 pg/ml (SEM: 437 pg/ml) respectively. The levels of IL-6 and IL-8 in ascites were significantly lower in patients that have received prior chemotherapy before the surgery (Mann-Whitney U test, P = 0.037 for IL-6 and P = 0.008 for IL-8). Univariate analysis revealed that high IL-6 ascites levels (P = 0.021), serum CA125 levels (P = 0.04) and stage IV (P = 0.009) were significantly correlated with shorter progression-free survival. Including these variables in a multivariate analysis revealed that elevated IL-6 levels (P = 0.033) was an independent predictor of shorter progression-free survival.
Elevated IL-6, but not IL-8, ascites level is an independent predictor of shorter progression-free survival.
PMCID: PMC3118896  PMID: 21619709
2.  Effect of Ovarian Cancer Ascites on Cell Migration and Gene Expression in an Epithelial Ovarian Cancer In Vitro Model1 
Translational Oncology  2010;3(4):230-238.
A third of patients with epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) present ascites. The cellular fraction of ascites often consists of EOC cells, lymphocytes, and mesothelial cells, whereas the acellular fraction contains cytokines and angiogenic factors. Clinically, the presence of ascites correlates with intraperitoneal and retroperitoneal tumor spread. We have used OV-90, a tumorigenic EOC cell line derived from the malignant ascites of a chemonaive ovarian cancer patient, as a model to assess the effect of ascites on migration potential using an in vitro wound-healing assay. A recent report of an invasion assay described the effect of ascites on the invasion potential of the OV-90 cell line. Ascites sampled from 31 ovarian cancer patients were tested and compared with either 5% fetal bovine serum or no serum for their nonstimulatory or stimulatory effect on the migration potential of the OV-90 cell line. A supervised analysis of data generated by the Affymetrix HG-U133A GeneChip identified differentially expressed genes from OV-90 cells exposed to ascites that had either a nonstimulatory or a stimulatory effect on migration. Ten genes (IRS2, CTSD, NRAS, MLXIP, HMGCR, LAMP1, ETS2, NID1, SMARCD1, and CD44) were upregulated in OV-90 cells exposed to ascites, allowing a nonstimulatory effect on cell migration. These findings were validated by quantitative polymerase chain reaction. In addition, the gene expression of IRS2 and MLXIP each correlated with prognosis when their expression was assessed in an independent set of primary cultures established from ovarian ascites. This study revealed novel candidates that may play a role in ovarian cancer cell migration.
PMCID: PMC2915414  PMID: 20689764
3.  Common Polymorphism in Interleukin 6 Influences Survival of Women with Ovarian and Peritoneal Carcinoma. 
Gynecologic oncology  2006;103(3):793-796.
The IL6 -174 promoter polymorphism impacts serum cytokine levels through transcriptional regulation. The objective of our study was to determine if -174 IL6 genotype influences survival in ovarian cancer.
The IL6 -174 polymorphism was assessed by direct DNA sequencing in lymphocyte DNA from 160 women with invasive ovarian, or peritoneal cancer patients. IL6 levels were measured in ascites and plasma in a subset of cases using colorimetric sandwich ELISA procedure. Overall survival was calculated according to the method of Kaplan and Meier. Cox regression analysis was used to evaluate the significance of individual variables in multivariate analysis. Chi-square or Fishers Exact was used to assess the significance of contingency tables.
The IL6 -174 genotype frequencies of CC (19%), CG (50%), and GG (31%) were in Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium and were similar to published frequencies in Caucasian controls. There were no associations with IL6 -174 genotype and age, stage or optimal cytoreduction. Stage had a significant impact on survival (p=0.003). The IL6 -174 GG genotype was significantly associated with longer overall survival (median 131 months) compared to CC or CG (median 28 months, p=0.0007). In cox regression analysis using the covariates genotype (p=0.006) and stage (p=0.02), both were independently significant. Furthermore, there was no association found between IL6 levels in ascites or plasma, and genotype, stage, or overall survival.
The IL6 -174 GG genotype has a strong, independent, and favorable impact on survival for women with ovarian, and peritoneal carcinoma.
PMCID: PMC2562602  PMID: 17023036
4.  Ovarian cancer ascites increase Mcl-1 expression in tumor cells through ERK1/2-Elk-1 signaling to attenuate TRAIL-induced apoptosis 
Molecular Cancer  2012;11:84.
Ascites may affect the progression of ovarian cancer (OC). In particular, soluble factors present in OC ascites can create a protective environment for tumor cells that promote de novo resistance to drug- and death receptor-induced apoptosis. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms responsible for ascites-induced drug resistance are not well characterized.
Using human OC cell lines and tissues microarrays of human OC biopsies, we assessed the mechanism by which OC ascites increase Mcl-1 expression using Western blots, chemical inhibitors of ERK and small-inhibitory RNA treatments.
In the present study, we found that both Mcl-1 mRNA and protein levels were upregulated within 2 h upon treatment of OC cells with ascites obtained from women with advanced OC. In contrast, the expression of other Bcl-2 family antiapoptotic members such as Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL was not affected by ascites. An increase of Mcl-1 expression was consistently observed across different ascites from women with advanced serous OC. The knockdown of Mcl-1 significantly blocked ascites-induced Mcl-1 upregulation and ascites-mediated inhibition of TRAIL-induced apoptosis. Ascites induced a rapid phosphorylation of ERK1/2 and Elk-1 transcription factor. Furthermore, we found that ERK1/2 inhibition or Elk-1 knockdown was sufficient to block ascites-induced Mcl-1 expression. In high grade serous OC, we found a positive correlation between phosphorylated ERK1/2 and Mcl-1 expression.
These results indicate that ascites-induced ERK1/2/Elk-1 signaling is critical for Mcl-1 expression and for the ascites-mediated attenuation of TRAIL-induced apoptosis. The ERK1/2/Elk-1/Mcl-1 pathway represents a novel mechanism by which ascites induce de novo TRAIL resistance in OC cells.
PMCID: PMC3526430  PMID: 23158473
Ovarian cancer; Resistance; Mcl-1; ERK1/2; TRAIL; Elk-1
5.  Osteoprotegerin (OPG) protects ovarian cancer cells from TRAIL-induced apoptosis but does not contribute to malignant ascites-mediated attenuation of TRAIL-induced apoptosis 
Resistance to apoptosis is a major problem in ovarian cancer and correlates with poor prognosis. Osteoprotegerin (OPG) is a secreted factor in malignant ascites and acts as a decoy receptor for receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL) and tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL). TRAIL promotes apoptosis in ovarian cancer cells. Ovarian cancer ascites attenuate TRAIL-induced apoptosis raising the possibility that OPG contained in ascites may abrogate the anti-tumor activity of TRAIL.
Determination of OPG levels in ascites was measured by ELISA. Effect of OPG on TRAIL-induced cell death was determined by XTT and colony forming assays in ovarian cancer cell lines and primary tumor cells. Apoptosis was assessed by ELISA.
We found that recombinant OPG and malignant ascites attenuates TRAIL-induced cell death and apoptosis in a dose-dependent manner in ovarian cancer cell lines and primary ovarian tumor cells. OPG is present at high levels in the ascites of patients with ovarian cancer. We found a positive correlation between the levels of OPG in ascites and the ability of the ascites to attenuate TRAIL-induced cell death. The anti-apoptotic effect of ascites was not reversed by co-incubation with an OPG blocking antibody.
OPG and malignant ascites protect ovarian cancer cells from TRAIL-induced apoptosis. Although malignant ascites contain high levels of OPG, OPG is not a critical component that contributes to ascites-mediated attenuation of TRAIL-induced apoptosis.
PMCID: PMC3507713  PMID: 23153223
Osteoprotegerin; TRAIL; Ovarian carcinoma; Resistance; Ascites; Apoptosis
6.  Characterization of Ovarian Cancer Ascites on Cell Invasion, Proliferation, Spheroid Formation, and Gene Expression in an In Vitro Model of Epithelial Ovarian Cancer12 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2007;9(10):820-829.
At least one third of all cases of epithelial ovarian cancer are associated with the production of ascites, although its effect on tumor cell microenvironment remains poorly understood. This study addresses the effect of the heterologous acellular fraction of ovarian cancer-derived ascites on a cell line (OV-90) derived from the chemotherapy-naïve ovarian cancer patient. Ascites were assayed for their effect on cell invasion, growth, and spheroid formation. When compared to either no serum or 5% serum, ascites fell into one of two categories: stimulatory or inhibitory. RNA from OV-90 cells exposed to selected ascites were arrayed on an Affymetrix HG-U133A GeneChip. A supervised analysis identified a number of differentially expressed genes and quantitative polymerase chain reaction validation based on OV-90 cells exposed to 54 independent ascites demonstrated that stimulatory ascites affected the expression of ISGF3G, TRIB1, MKP1, RGS4, PLEC1, and MOSPD1 genes. In addition, TRIB1 expression was shown to independently correlate with prognosis when its expression was ascertained in an independent set of primary cultures established from ovarian ascites. The data support the validity of the strategy to uncover molecular events that are associated with tumor cell behavior and highlight the impact of ascites on the cellular and molecular parameters of ovarian cancer.
PMCID: PMC2040209  PMID: 17971902
Epithelial ovarian cancer; ovarian ascites; cell behavior; invasion; molecular profiling
7.  Getting to Know Ovarian Cancer Ascites: Opportunities for Targeted Therapy-Based Translational Research 
Frontiers in Oncology  2013;3:256.
More than one third of ovarian cancer patients present with ascites at diagnosis, and almost all have ascites at recurrence. The presence of ascites correlates with the peritoneal spread of ovarian cancer and is associated with poor disease prognosis. Malignant ascites acts as a reservoir of a complex mixture of soluble factors and cellular components which provide a pro-inflammatory and tumor-promoting microenvironment for the tumor cells. Subpopulations of these tumor cells exhibit cancer stem-like phenotypes, possess enhanced resistance to therapies and the capacity for distal metastatic spread and recurrent disease. Thus, ascites-derived malignant cells and the ascites microenvironment represent a major source of morbidity and mortality for ovarian cancer patients. This review focuses on recent advances in our understanding of the molecular, cellular, and functional characteristics of the cellular populations within ascites and discusses their contributions to ovarian cancer metastasis, chemoresistance, and recurrence. We highlight in particular recent translational findings which have used primary ascites-derived tumor cells as a tool to understand the pathogenesis of the disease, yielding new insights and targets for therapeutic manipulation.
PMCID: PMC3782691  PMID: 24093089
ovarian carcinoma; ascites; chemoresistance; recurrence; metastasis; cytokines
8.  Ascites Specific Inhibition of CD1d-Mediated Activation of NKT cells 
Natural killer T (NKT) cells recognize lipid antigen presented by CD1 molecules. NKT cells can both directly, through cytotoxicity, and indirectly, through activation of other effector cells, mediate anti-tumor immunity. However, it has been shown that tumor associated lipids are frequently shed into the tumor microenvironment, which can mediate immunosuppressive activity. Given that ovarian cancer associated ascites has been reported to have increased levels of gangliosides, we examined the effect of tumor associated and other ascites on CD1d-mediated antigen presentation to NKT cells.
Experimental Design
To investigate the effects of ascites on NKT cell activation, we pretreated CD1d-expressing cells with the ascites and measured their ability to stimulate cytokine production in NKT cells. To determine whether antigen processing or editing was necessary, CD1d-Ig-based artificial Antigen Presenting Cells (aAPC) were also incubated with ascites. In addition, to examine specificity, we analyzed whether ascites fluid could influence the activation of classical CD8+ T cells.
Pretreatment of CD1d-expressing cells with ascites from the majority of patients inhibited the cells’ ability to stimulate/activate NKT cells in a dose-dependent manner. Ascites treatment also partially blocked the ability of α-GalCer loaded CD1d-Ig-based artificial Antigen Presenting Cells (aAPC) to activate NKT cells. In addition, our data demonstrate that treatment with ascites does not inhibit HLA-A2 mediated activation of classical CD8+ T cells.
Together, these data suggest that ovarian and other cancers may have developed immune evasion mechanisms specifically targeting the CD1/NKT cell system.
PMCID: PMC2676584  PMID: 19047090
NKT cells; CD1d1; ascites; ovarian cancer
9.  Procalcitonin, and cytokines document a dynamic inflammatory state in non-infected cirrhotic patients with ascites 
AIM: To quantitate the simultaneous serum and ascitic fluid levels of procalcitonin and inflammatory markers in cirrhotics with and without ascites.
METHODS: A total of 88 consecutive severe cirrhotic patients seen in a large city hospital liver clinic were studied and divided into two groups, those with and without ascites. Group 1 consisted of 41 cirrhotic patients with massive ascites, as demonstrated by necessity for therapeutic large-volume paracentesis. Group 2 consisted of 47 cirrhotic patients without any clinically documented ascites to include either a recent abdominal computed tomography scan or ultrasound study. Serum and ascitic fluid levels of an array of inflammatory markers, including procalcitonin, were measured and compared to each other and a normal plasma panel (NPP).
RESULTS: The values for inflammatory markers assayed in the serum of Groups 1 and 2, and ascitic fluid of the Group 1. The plasma levels of the inflammatory cytokines interleukin (IL)-2, IL-4, IL-6, IL-8, interferon gamma (IFNγ) and epidermal growth factor (EGF) were all significantly greater in the serum of Group 1 as compared to that of the serum obtained from the Group 2 subjects (all P < 0.05). There were significantly greater serum levels of IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, tumor necrosis factor-α, vascular endothelial growth factor and EGF when comparing Group 2 to the NPP. There was no significant difference for IL-1A, IL-1B, IL-2, IL-4 and IFNγ levels between these two groups. Serum procalcitonin levels were increased in cirrhotics with ascites compared to cirrhotics without ascites, but serum levels were similar to ascites levels within the ascites group. Furthermore, many of these cytokines, but not procalcitonin, demonstrate an ascites-to-serum gradient. Serum procalcitonin does not demonstrate any significant difference segregated by liver etiology in the ascites group; but ascitic fluid procalcitonin is elevated significantly in cardiac cirrhosis/miscellaneous subgroup compared to the hepatitis C virus and alcoholic cirrhosis subgroups.
CONCLUSION: Procalcitonin in the ascitic fluid, but not in the serum, differentiates between cirrhotic subgroup reflecting the dynamic interplay of ascites, bacterial translocation and the peri-peritoneal cytokine.
PMCID: PMC3942841  PMID: 24605035
Ascites; Bacterial translocation; Inflammatory markers; Procalcitonin; Cirrhosis
10.  Treatment of ovarian cancer ascites by intra-peritoneal injection of diphtheria toxin A chain-H19 vector: a case report 
Ovarian cancer ascitic fluid, which contains malignant cells, is usually present in women with an advanced stage disease. There are currently no effective therapies for the treatment of ovarian cancer ascitic fluid. We developed a new therapeutic strategy to target expression of the diphtheria toxin fragment A gene in ovarian tumor cells under the control of H19 regulatory sequences.
Case presentation
A 64-year-old Caucasian woman was diagnosed with a stage IIIc epithelial ovarian cancer. She suffered from progressive disease, accumulation of malignant ascites that needed to be drained weekly, abdominal pain, vomiting, anorexia and severe weakness. Infusion of the diphtheria toxin A chain-H19 plasmid into the peritoneum of our patient resulted in complete resolution of the ascites with minimum adverse events.
On the basis of this preliminary experience, we are currently conducting an extensive Phase I study on a larger number of patients in order to assess the safety and preliminary efficacy of this novel patient-oriented treatment approach.
PMCID: PMC2918631  PMID: 20663201
11.  TGF-β blockade controls ascites by preventing abnormalization of lymphatic vessels in orthotopic human ovarian carcinoma models 
Ovarian cancer patients with malignant ascites have poor prognosis. The accumulation of ascites is caused by an imbalance between fluid extravasation from the blood vessels and reabsorption by lymphatic vessels. Whereas, the role of Transforming Growth Factor beta (TGF-β) in tumor progression has been well studied, the role of TGF-β in lymphatic vessel function is far from understood. Here, we sought to dissect the role of TGF-β blockade in the formation of ascites.
Experimental Design
We used soluble TGF-β Receptor II (sTβRII) to block TGF-β signaling in two orthotopic human ovarian carcinoma models: SKOV3ip1 and Hey-A8. We measured tumor proliferation, apoptosis, lymphangiogenesis and angiogenesis by immunohistochemical staining, and examined diaphragm lymphatic vessel network by intraperitoneal injection of a fluorescent dye. Diaphragm lymphatic vessel function was assessed by tracking fluorescent beads in the diaphragm and measuring their drainage rate.
TGF-β blockade impaired tumor growth in both models, accompanied by a decreased tumor cell proliferation and angiogenesis. More strikingly, TGF-β blockade almost completely abolished ascites formation. TGF-β blockade significantly inhibited the expression of VEGF, which is the major contributor to ascites formation. At the same time, TGF-β blockade prevent ‘abnormalization’ of diaphragm lymphatic vessels and improved ascites drainage.
TGF-β blockade decreased ascites by both inhibiting ascites formation and improving ascites drainage. Based on our finding, it is reasonable to consider the use of TGF-β blockade as a palliative treatment for symptomatic ascites.
PMCID: PMC3060297  PMID: 21278244
12.  Isolation and characterization of stromal progenitor cells from ascites of patients with epithelial ovarian adenocarcinoma 
At least one-third of epithelial ovarian cancers are associated with the development of ascites containing heterogeneous cell populations, including tumor cells, inflammatory cells, and stromal elements. The components of ascites and their effects on the tumor cell microenvironment remain poorly understood. This study aimed to isolate and characterize stromal progenitor cells from the ascites of patients with epithelial ovarian adenocarcinoma (EOA).
Seventeen ascitic fluid samples and 7 fresh tissue samples were collected from 16 patients with EOA. The ascites samples were then cultured in vitro in varying conditions. Flow cytometry and immunocytochemistry were used to isolate and characterize 2 cell populations with different morphologies (epithelial type and mesenchymal type) deriving from the ascites samples. The in vitro cell culture model was established using conditional culture medium.
The doubling times of the epithelial type and mesenchymal type cells were 36 h and 48 h, respectively, indicating faster growth of the epithelial type cells compared to the mesenchymal type cells. Cultured in vitro, these ascitic cells displayed the potential for self-renewal and long-term proliferation, and expressed the typical cancer stem/progenitor cell markers CD44high, CD24low, and AC133+. These cells also demonstrated high BMP-2, BMP4, TGF-β, Rex-1, and AC133 early gene expression, and expressed EGFR, integrin α2β1, CD146, and Flt-4, which are highly associated with tumorigenesis and metastasis. The epithelial type cells demonstrated higher cytokeratin 18 and E-cadherin expression than the mesenchymal type cells. The mesenchymal type cells, in contrast, demonstrated higher AC133, CD73, CD105, CD117, EGFR, integrin α2β1, and CD146 surface marker expression than the epithelial type cells.
The established culture system provides an in vitro model for the selection of drugs that target cancer-associated stromal progenitor cells, and for the development of ovarian cancer treatments.
PMCID: PMC3305560  PMID: 22330345
human cancer initiating/stem cell; stromal progenitor cells; epithelial ovarian adenocarcinoma; epithelial-mesenchymal transition
13.  Polyfunctional T-Cell Responses Are Disrupted by the Ovarian Cancer Ascites Environment and Only Partially Restored by Clinically Relevant Cytokines 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(12):e15625.
Host T-cell responses are associated with favorable outcomes in epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC), but it remains unclear how best to promote these responses in patients. Toward this goal, we evaluated a panel of clinically relevant cytokines for the ability to enhance multiple T-cell effector functions (polyfunctionality) in the native tumor environment.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Experiments were performed with resident CD8+ and CD4+ T cells in bulk ascites cell preparations from high-grade serous EOC patients. T cells were stimulated with α-CD3 in the presence of 100% autologous ascites fluid with or without exogenous IL-2, IL-12, IL-18 or IL-21, alone or in combination. T-cell proliferation (Ki-67) and function (IFN-γ, TNF-α, IL-2, CCL4, and CD107a expression) were assessed by multi-parameter flow cytometry. In parallel, 27 cytokines were measured in culture supernatants. While ascites fluid had variable effects on CD8+ and CD4+ T-cell proliferation, it inhibited T-cell function in most patient samples, with CD107a, IFN-γ, and CCL4 showing the greatest inhibition. This was accompanied by reduced levels of IL-1β, IL-1ra, IL-9, IL-17, G-CSF, GM-CSF, Mip-1α, PDGF-bb, and bFGF in culture supernatants. T-cell proliferation was enhanced by exogenous IL-2, but other T-cell functions were largely unaffected by single cytokines. The combination of IL-2 with cytokines engaging complementary signaling pathways, in particular IL-12 and IL-18, enhanced expression of IFN-γ, TNF-α, and CCL4 in all patient samples by promoting polyfunctional T-cell responses. Despite this, other functional parameters generally remained inhibited.
The EOC ascites environment disrupts multiple T-cell functions, and exogenous cytokines engaging diverse signaling pathways only partially reverse these effects. Our results may explain the limited efficacy of cytokine therapies for EOC to date. Full restoration of T-cell function will require activation of signaling pathways beyond those engaged by IL-2, IL-12, IL-18, and IL-21.
PMCID: PMC3008736  PMID: 21203522
14.  Features of the renin-angiotensin system in ascites and pleural effusion during severe ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome 
Purpose: The purpose of this work was to investigate the ovarian renin-angiotensin system (RAS) during severe ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) with ascites and pleural effusion.
Methods: Two patients who developed severe OHSS after ovarian stimulation for in vitro fertilization were investigated. Both patients presented ascites and pleural effusion. Blood, ascites, and pleural fluid were simultaneously sampled during therapeutic paracentesis and thoracocentesis. Renin activity, active renin, prorenin, and angiotensin II immunoreactivity (Ang II-ir) were measured simultaneously in plasma, ascites, and pleural fluid.
Results: Prorenin, renin activity, active renin, and Ang II-ir levels were much higher than normal plasmatic laboratory norms in the three compartments. Prorenin and Ang II-ir levels were the highest in the ascites, while they were in the same range in the pleural fluid and in the plasma.
Conclusions: The present findings provide additional evidence for the ovarian origin of the prorenin and Ang II-ir in the ascites of severe OHSS.
PMCID: PMC3454728  PMID: 9147235
angiotensin II; ascites; ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome; pleural effusion; prorenin; renin; ovarian reninangiotensin system
15.  High serum levels of soluble CD44 variant isoform v5 are associated with favourable clinical outcome in ovarian cancer. 
British Journal of Cancer  1997;76(12):1646-1651.
In 96 ovarian cancer patients, the present study investigates the clinical significance of pretreatment concentrations of soluble CD44 standard (CD44s) and its isoforms v5 and v6 determined in the serum and the ascitic fluid by means of recently developed enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs). Furthermore, CD44 serum concentrations in the ovarian cancer patients were compared with circulating CD44 levels in 50 healthy age-matched female blood donors. Whereas CD44s was found to be higher and CD44v5 to be lower in ovarian cancer patients than healthy control subjects, no statistical difference between the two cohorts was revealed for CD44 isoform v6. In the ascitic fluid samples, variant isoform v5 and v6 were demonstrated at lower concentrations than serum. Multivariate analysis of overall survival demonstrated that a high pretreatment serum level of soluble CD44 isoform v5 is independently associated with favourable clinical outcome in ovarian cancer. When circulating CD44 isoforms were compared with a panel of serum parameters known to be involved in the immunological network, an inverse correlation between serum CD44v5 levels and indicators of cellular immune system activation, such as soluble interleukin 2 receptor, immunostimulatory protein 90K and neopterin, became apparent.
PMCID: PMC2228203  PMID: 9413956
16.  Ascitic fluid from human ovarian cancer patients contains growth factors necessary for intraperitoneal growth of human ovarian adenocarcinoma cells. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1990;86(3):851-855.
Human ovarian cancer, the leading cause of death from gynecologic malignancy, tends to remain localized to the peritoneal cavity until late in the disease. In established disease, ascitic fluid accumulates in the peritoneal cavity. We have previously demonstrated that this ascitic fluid is a potent source of in vitro mitogenic activity including at least one unique growth factor. We now report that the human ovarian adenocarcinoma line, HEY, can be induced to grow intraperitoneally in immunodeficient nude mice in the presence (23/28 mice), but not absence (0/21 mice) of ascitic fluid from ovarian cancer patients. Ascitic fluid from patients with benign disease did not have similar effects on intraperitoneal growth of HEY cells (1/15 mice). Once tumors were established by injections of exogenous ascitic fluid, they could progress in the absence of additional injections of ascitic fluid. The mice eventually developed ascitic fluid which contained potent growth factor activity, suggesting that the tumors eventually produced autologous growth factors. This nude mouse model provides a system to study the action of ovarian cancer growth factors on tumor growth in vivo and to evaluate preclinically, therapeutic approaches designed to counteract the activity of these growth factors.
PMCID: PMC296802  PMID: 2394835
17.  Depressed and anxious mood and T-cell cytokine expressing populations in ovarian cancer patients 
Brain, behavior, and immunity  2008;22(6):890-900.
The adaptive immune response of ovarian cancer patients has been linked to survival, and is known to be impaired in the tumor microenvironment. Little is known about relationships between biobehavioral factors such as depressed mood and anxiety and the adaptive immune response in ovarian cancer. Thirty-seven patients with epithelial ovarian cancer and 14 patients with benign neoplasms completed psychosocial questionnaires pre-surgery. Lymphocytes from peripheral blood, tumor, and ascites (fluid around the tumor), were obtained on the day of surgery. Expression of the Type-1 cytokine interferon gamma (IFNγ), and the Type-2 cytokine interleukin-4 (IL-4) by T-helper (CD4+) and T-cytotoxic (CD8+) cells was measured under autologous tumor-stimulated, polyclonally-stimulated, or unstimulated conditions. Links with mood were examined. Among cancer patients, marked elevations in unstimulated and tumor-stimulated Type-2 responses were seen, particularly in ascites and tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (P values < 0.01). With polyclonal stimulation, lymphocytes from all compartments expressed elevated Type-1 cytokines (P values <0.014). Depressed and anxious mood were both associated with significantly lower ratios of polyclonally-stimulated CD4+ cells producing IFNγ (TH1 cells) vs. IL-4 (TH2 cells) in all compartments (depressed mood: P = 0.012; anxiety: P = 0.038) and depressed mood was also related to lower ratios of polyclonally-stimulated CD8+ cells producing IFNγ (TC1) vs. IL-4 (TC2) (P =0.035). Although effects of polyclonal stimulation should be generalized with caution to the in vivo immune response, findings suggest that depressed and anxious mood are associated with greater impairment of adaptive immunity in peripheral blood and in the tumor microenvironment among ovarian cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC2605940  PMID: 18276105
Ovarian cancer; Cytokines; Depressed mood; anxiety; Psychoneuroimmunology; T-cell response, distress, tumor microenvironment
18.  ASPM and microcephalin expression in epithelial ovarian cancer correlates with tumour grade and survival 
British Journal of Cancer  2011;104(10):1602-1610.
The clinico-pathological and molecular heterogeneity of epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) complicates its early diagnosis and successful treatment. Highly aneuploid tumours and the presence of ascitic fluids are hallmarks of EOC. Two microcephaly-associated proteins, abnormal spindle-like microcephaly-associated protein (ASPM) and microcephalin, are involved in mitosis and DNA damage repair. Their expression is deregulated at the RNA level in EOC. Here, ASPM and microcephalin protein expression in primary cultures established from the ascites of patients with EOC was determined and correlated with clinical data to assess their suitability as biomarkers.
Five established ovarian cancer cell lines, cells derived from two benign ovarian ascites samples and 40 primary cultures of EOC derived from ovarian ascites samples were analysed by protein slot blotting and/or immunofluorescence to determine ASPM and microcephalin protein levels and their cellular localisation. Results were correlated with clinico-pathological data.
A statistically significant correlation was identified for ASPM localisation and tumour grade, with high levels of cytoplasmic ASPM correlating with grade 1 tumours. Conversely, cytoplasmic microcephalin was only identified in high-grade tumours. Furthermore, low levels of nuclear microcephalin correlated with reduced patient survival.
Our results suggest that ASPM and microcephalin have the potential to be biomarkers in ovarian cancer.
PMCID: PMC3101901  PMID: 21505456
epithelial ovarian cancer; ovarian ascites; ASPM; microcephalin; biomarkers
19.  Differentiation of Tuberculous Peritonitis from Peritonitis Carcinomatosa without Surgical Intervention 
Ascites of tuberculous peritonitis (TBP) is an exudative type and may well be misdiagnosed as carcinomatous peritonitis, especially in the elderly. The aim of this study was to identify independent predictors that can differentiate TBP from peritonitis carcinomatosa without surgical intervention.
Patients and Methods:
This prospective cohort study was performed on 75 subjects in the following groups: TBP (n=27) (TBP group), ovarian cancer complicated with ascites (n=24) (Ov Ca group), and gastric cancer complicated with ascites (n=24) (Ga Ca group). The frequency of clinical symptoms, laboratory parameters, and serum tumor markers levels were compared.
In univariate analysis; fever, night sweats, and abdominal pain were significantly more frequent in the TBP group compared to those in the Ov Ca group (P < 0.001, P < 0.001, and P = 0.035, respectively) and the Ga Ca group (P < 0.001, P < 0.001, and P = 0.015, respectively). Serum CA 19-9 and carcino embryonic antigen (CEA) levels were significantly lower in the TBP and Ov Ca group compared to the Ga Ca group (P < 0.001 and P < 0.001, respectively). Elevated serum CA 125 level was found in all patients with TBP and Ov Ca and in 86.6% of patients with Ga Ca. In the multivariate analysis, presence of fever (P < 0.001), night sweats (P < 0.001), age under 40 years (P = 0.008), and normal serum CA 19-9 level (P = 0.044) were independent predictor of diagnosis of TBP.
The presence of fever, elevated serum CA 125 level, normal serum CA 19-9, and CEA associated with lymphocyte predominant benign ascites may establish the diagnosis of TBP.
PMCID: PMC3178918  PMID: 21912057
Ascites; gastric cancer; ovarian cancer; peritonitis carcinomatosa; tuberculous peritonitis; tumor markers
20.  Metastasis of ovarian cancer is mediated by kallikrein related peptidases 
Ovarian cancer, in particular epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC), is commonly diagnosed when the tumor has metastasized into the abdominal cavity with an accumulation of ascites fluid. Combining histopathology and genetic variations, EOC can be sub-grouped into Type-I and Type-II tumors, of which the latter are more aggressive and metastatic. Metastasis and chemoresistance are the key events associated with the tumor microenvironment that lead to a poor patient outcome. Kallikrein-related peptidases (KLKs) are aberrantly expressed in EOC, in particular, in the more metastatic Type-II tumors. KLKs are a family of 15 serine proteases that are expressed in diverse human tissues and involved in various patho-physiological processes. As extracellular enzymes, KLKs function in the hydrolysis of growth factors, proteases, cell membrane bound receptors, adhesion proteins, and cytokines initiating intracellular signaling pathways and their downstream events. High KLK levels are differentially associated with the prognosis of ovarian cancer patients, suggesting that they not only have application as biomarkers but also function in disease progression, and therefore are potential therapeutic targets. Recent studies have demonstrated the function of these proteases in promoting and/or suppressing the invasive behavior of ovarian cancer cells in metastasis in vitro and in vivo. Both conventional cell culture methods and three-dimensional platforms have been applied to mimic the ovarian cancer microenvironment of patients, such as the solid stromal matrix and ascites fluid. Here we summarize published studies to provide an overview of our understanding of the role of KLKs in EOC, and to lay the foundation for future research directions.
PMCID: PMC3892111  PMID: 24043563
Kallikrein-related peptidases; Serous ovarian cancer; Ascites microenvironment; Multicellular aggregation; Chemoresistance; Metastasis
21.  Claudin 4 Is Differentially Expressed between Ovarian Cancer Subtypes and Plays a Role in Spheroid Formation 
Claudin 4 is a cellular adhesion molecule that is frequently overexpressed in ovarian cancer and other epithelial cancers. In this study, we sought to determine whether the expression of claudin 4 is associated with outcome in ovarian cancer patients and may be involved in tumor progression. We examined claudin 4 expression in ovarian cancer tissues and cell lines, as well as by immunohistochemical staining of tissue microarrays (TMAs; n = 500), spheroids present in patients’ ascites, and spheroids formed in vitro. Claudin 4 was expressed in nearly 70% of the ovarian cancer tissues examined and was differentially expressed across ovarian cancer subtypes, with the lowest expression in clear cell subtype. No association was found between claudin 4 expression and disease-specific survival in any subtype. Claudin 4 expression was also observed in multicellular spheroids obtained from patients’ ascites. Using an in vitro spheroid formation assay, we found that NIH:OVCAR5 cells treated with shRNA against claudin 4 required a longer time to form compact spheroids compared to control NIH:OVCAR5 cells that expressed high levels of claudin 4. The inability of the NIH:OVCAR5 cells treated with claudin 4 shRNA to form compact spheroids was verified by FITC-dextran exclusion. These results demonstrate a role for claudin 4 and tight junctions in spheroid formation and integrity.
PMCID: PMC3083709  PMID: 21541062
ovarian cancer; claudin 4; biomarker; spheroid; ascites
22.  KSP inhibitor ARRY-520 as a substitute for Paclitaxel in Type I ovarian cancer cells 
We previously described a sub-population of epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) cells with a functional TLR-4/MyD88/NF-κB pathway (Type I EOC cells), which confers the capacity to respond to Paclitaxel, a known TLR-4 ligand, by enhancing NF-κB activity and upregulating cytokine secretion – events that are known to promote tumor progression. It is therefore important to distinguish those patients that should not receive Paclitaxel; it is also important to identify alternative chemotherapy options that would benefit this sub-group of patients. The objective of this study is to determine if the KSP inhibitor, ARRY-520, can be a substitute for Paclitaxel in patients with Type I EOC.
EOC cells isolated from either ascites or tumor tissue were treated with increasing concentrations of ARRY-520 or Paclitaxel and cell viability determined. Activation of the apoptotic pathway was determined using Western blot analysis. Mitochondrial integrity was quantified using JC1 dye. Cytokine profiling was performed from supernatants using xMAP technology. NF-κB activity was measured using a Luciferase reporter system. In vivo activity was determined using a subcutaneous xenograft mouse model.
ARRY-520 and Paclitaxel exhibited the same cytotoxic effect on Type I and II cells. The GI50 at 48 h for Type II EOC cells was 0.0015 μM and 0.2 μM for ARRY-520 and Paclitaxel, respectively. For Type I EOC cells, the GI50 at 48 h was > 3 μM and >20 μM for ARRY-520 and Paclitaxel, respectively. Decrease in the number of viable cells was accompanied by mitochondrial depolarization and caspase activation. Unlike Paclitaxel, ARRY-520 did not induce NF-κB activation, did not enhance cytokine secretion, nor induce ERK phosphorylation in Type I EOC cells.
Administration of Paclitaxel to patients with high percentage Type I cancer cells could have detrimental effects due to Paclitaxel-induced enhancement of NF-κB and ERK activities, and cytokine production (e.g. IL-6), which promote chemoresistance and tumor progression. ARRY-520 has similar anti-tumor activity in EOC cells as that of Paclitaxel. However, unlike Paclitaxel, it does not induce these pro-tumor effects in Type I cells. Therefore, the KSP inhibitor ARRY-520 may represent an alternative to Paclitaxel in this subgroup of EOC patients.
PMCID: PMC2719595  PMID: 19619321
23.  The prosurvival activity of ascites against TRAIL is associated with a shorter disease-free interval in patients with ovarian cancer 
The production of ascites is a common complication of ovarian cancer. Ascites constitute a unique tumor microenvironment that may affect disease progression. In this context, we recently showed that ovarian cancer ascites may protect tumor cells from TRAIL-induced apoptosis. In this study, we sought to determine whether the prosurvival effect of ascites affects disease-free intervals.
Peritoneal fluids were obtained from 54 women undergoing intra-abdominal surgery for suspected ovarian cancer (44 cancers and 10 benign diseases). The ability of peritoneal fluids to protect from TRAIL was assessed in the ovarian cancer cell line CaOV3, and IC50 were determined. The anti-apoptotic activity of 6 ascites against cisplatin, paclitaxel, doxorubicin, etoposide and vinorelbine was also assessed in CaOV3 cells, and the prosurvival activity of two ascites was assessed in 9 primary ovarian cancer cultures.
Among the 54 peritoneal fluids tested, inhibition of TRAIL cytotoxicity was variable. Fluids originating from ovarian cancer were generally more protective than fluids from non-malignant diseases. Most of the 44 ovarian cancer ascites increased TRAIL IC50 and this inhibitory effect did not correlate strongly with the protein concentration in these ascites or the levels of serum CA125, a tumor antigen which is used in the clinic as a marker of tumor burden. The effect of ascites on cisplatin- and paclitaxel-induced cell death was assessed with 4 ascites having inhibitory effect on TRAIL-induced cell death and 2 that do not. The four ascites with prosurvival activity against TRAIL had some inhibitory on cisplatin and/or paclitaxel. Two ovarian cancer ascites, OVC346 and OVC509, also inhibited TRAIL cytotoxicity in 9 primary cultures of ovarian tumor and induced Akt activation in three of these primary cultures. Among a cohort of 35 patients with ascites, a threshold of TRAIL IC50 with ascites/IC50 without ascites > 2 was associated with shorter disease-free interval.
The prosurvival activity of ascites against TRAIL is associated with shorter disease-free interval, which may be explained, at least in part, by ascites-induced cisplatin/paclitaxel resistance. Our findings suggest that ascites may contain prosurvival factors that protect against TRAIL and chemotherapy and consequently affect disease progression.
PMCID: PMC2821314  PMID: 20157422
24.  Massive ascites as a presenting manifestation of chronic lymphocytic leukemia 
Ascites is not an uncommon manifestation of certain solid tumors like gastrointestinal malignancies, ovarian cancer and breast cancer. However, it is unusual to encounter ascites in patients with hematological malignancies especially chronic leukemia. The patient described here presented with massive ascites and blood lymphocytosis. Further studies confirmed the diagnosis of chronic lymphocytic leukemia with ascites. The ascitic fluid was exudative, consisting of mature-looking B-lymphocytes, which were morphologically and immunophenotypically similar to peripheral blood and bone marrow cells. The patient was treated with chemotherapy and achieved a good response and diminution of ascitic fluid accumulation.
PMCID: PMC2716628  PMID: 18567094
Ascites; Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
25.  Meigs syndrome presenting with axillary vein thrombosis and lymphadenopathy: a case report 
Meigs syndrome is a rare condition, occurring in less than 1% of ovarian tumors and has the characteristic features of a benign ovarian tumor, ascites and a pleural effusion. We present a case of Meigs syndrome in a young patient presenting initially with an axillary vein thrombosis and local lymphadenopathy.
Case presentation
A 28-year-old Caucasian woman presented with a short history of right arm swelling and shortness of breath as a result of an axillary vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolus.
The initial assessment also demonstrated right axillary and subclavian lymphadenopathy, a pleural effusion, ascites and a large ovarian mass. Serum levels of the tumor markers human chorionic gonadotropin and alpha-fetoprotein were normal and the CA-125 level was only moderately elevated.
The combination of thrombosis, lymphadenopathy and an ovarian mass raised the possibility of a disseminated malignancy potentially an epithelial ovarian cancer, a germ cell tumor or an ovarian sex cord-stromal tumor.
Surgery, performed after a short period of anticoagulation, demonstrated a 13.5cm ovarian cellular fibroma of low malignant potential. Postoperatively the patient made an excellent recovery and the ascites, pleural effusion and lymphadenopathy all resolved promptly.
In Meigs syndrome the classical findings of ascites, pleural effusion in combination with an ovarian mass can mimic disseminated malignancy but resolve spontaneously after surgery. In this current case, the patient also had lymphadenopathy and venous thrombosis, two other findings that are frequently associated with malignancy and was acutely unwell at presentation.
It is unclear if the thrombosis and lymphadenopathy were simply coincidental or shared the same etiology as the ascites and pleural effusion. This case indicates that Meigs syndrome may on occasion present with additional findings that can further mimic disseminated malignancy and may lead to diagnostic uncertainty.
PMCID: PMC3750274  PMID: 23856407
Ascites; Meigs syndrome; Ovarian cancer; Thrombosis

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