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1.  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
2.  CCL18 from ascites promotes ovarian cancer cell migration through proline-rich tyrosine kinase 2 signaling 
Molecular Cancer  2016;15(1):58.
Ovarian cancer (OC) ascites consist in a proinflammatory tumor environment that is characterized by the presence of various cytokines, chemokines and growth factors. The presence of these inflammatory-related factors in ascites is associated with a more aggressive tumor phenotype. CCL18 is a member of CCL chemokines and its expression has been associated with poor prognosis in some cancers. However, its role in OC progression has not been established. Therefore, the aim of the current study was to elucidate the role of ascites CCL18 in OC progression.
ELISA and tissue microarrays were used to assess CCL18 in ascites and phospho-Pyk2 expression in cancer tissues respectively. Cell migration was assessed using Boyden chambers. CCL18 and ascites signaling was examined in ovarian cancer cells utilizing siRNA and exogenous gene expression.
Here, we show that CCL18 levels are markedly increased in advanced serous OC ascites relative to peritoneal effusions from women with benign conditions. Ascites and CCL18 dose-dependently enhanced the migration of OC cell lines CaOV3 and OVCAR3. CCL18 levels in ascites positively correlated with the ability of ascites to promote cell migration. CCL18 blocking antibodies significantly attenuated ascites-induced cell migration. Ascites and CCL18 stimulated the phosphorylation of proline-rich tyrosine kinase 2 (Pyk2) in CaOV3 and OVCAR3 cells. Most importantly, the expression of phosphorylated Pyk2 in serous OC tumors was associated with shorter progression-free survival. Furthermore, enforced expression of Pyk2 promoted tumor cell migration while siRNA-mediated downregulation of Pyk2 attenuated cell migration. Downregulation of Pyk2 markedly inhibited ascites and CCL18-induced cell migration.
Taken together, our findings establish an important role for CCL18, as a component of ascites, in the migration of tumor cells and identify Pyk2 as prognostic factor and a critical downstream signaling pathway for ascites-induced OC cell migration.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12943-016-0542-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC5017134  PMID: 27613122
Pyk2; Ovarian carcinoma; Ascites; CCL18; Cell migration
3.  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
4.  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
5.  Inflammation-regulating factors in ascites as predictive biomarkers of drug resistance and progression-free survival in serous epithelial ovarian cancers 
BMC Cancer  2015;15:492.
Platinum-based combination therapy is the standard first-line treatment for women with advanced serous epithelial ovarian carcinoma (EOC). However, about 20 % will not respond and are considered clinically resistant. The availability of biomarkers to predict responses to the initial therapy would provide a practical approach to identify women who would benefit from a more appropriate first-line treatment. Ascites is an attractive inflammatory fluid for biomarker discovery as it is easy and minimally invasive to obtain. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether six selected inflammation-regulating factors in ascites could serve as diagnostic or drug resistance biomarkers in patients with advanced serous EOC.
A total of 53 women with stage III/IV serous EOC and 10 women with benign conditions were enrolled in this study. Eleven of the 53 women with serous EOC were considered clinically resistant to treatment with progression-free survival < 6 months. Ascites were collected at the time of the debulking surgery and the levels of cytokines were measured by ELISA. The six selected cytokines were evaluated for their ability to discriminate serous EOC from benign controls, and to discriminate platinum resistant from platinum sensitive patients.
Median ascites levels of IL-6, IL-10 and osteoprotegerin (OPG) were significantly higher in women with advanced serous EOC than in controls (P ≤ 0.012). There were no significant difference in the median ascites levels of leptin, soluble urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (suPAR) and CCL18 among serous EOC women and controls. In Receiver Operator curve (ROC) analysis, IL-6, IL-10 and OPG had a high area under the curve value of 0.905, 0.832 and 0.825 respectively for distinguishing EOC from benign controls. ROC analysis of individual cytokines revealed low discriminating potential to stratify patients according to their sensitivity to first-line treatment. The combination of biomarkers with the highest discriminating potential was with CA125 and leptin (AUC = 0.936, 95 % CI: 0.894–0.978).
IL-6 was found to be strongly associated with advanced serous EOC and could be used in combination with serum CA125 to discriminate benign and EOC. Furthermore, the combination of serum CA125 and ascites leptin was a strong predictor of clinical resistance to first-line therapy.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12885-015-1511-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4486134  PMID: 26122176
Ascites; Ovarian cancer; Tumor microenvironment; Cytokines; Inflammation; Drug resistance
6.  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
7.  Role of malignant ascites on human mesothelial cells and their gene expression profiles 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:288.
Malignant ascites is often present at diagnostic in women with advanced ovarian cancer (OC) and its presence is associated with a worse outcome. Human peritoneal mesothelial cells (HPMCs) are key components of malignant ascites. Although the interplay between HPMCs and OC cells is believed to be critical for tumor progression, it has not been well characterized. The purpose of this study was to assess the effect of ascites on HPMCs and clarify the role of HPMCs in OC progression.
Human OC ascites and benign peritoneal fluids were assessed for their ability to stimulate HPMC proliferation. Conditioned medium from ascites- and benign fluid-stimulated HPMCs were compared for their ability to attenuate apoptosis induced by TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL). We conducted a comparative analysis of global expression changes in ascites-stimulated HPMCs using Agilent oligonucleotide microarrays.
As compared to benign peritoneal fluids, malignant ascites stimulated the proliferation of HPMCs. TRAIL-induced apoptosis was attenuated in OC cells exposed to conditioned medium from ascites-stimulated HPMCs as compared to OC cells exposed to conditioned medium from benign fluid-stimulated HPMCs. A total of 649 genes were differentially expressed in ascites-stimulated HPMCs. Based on a ratio of more than 1.5-fold and a P < 0.05, 484 genes were up-regulated and 165 genes were down-regulated in ascites-exposed HPMCs. Stimulation of HPMCs with OC ascites resulted in differential expression of genes mainly associated with the regulation of cell growth and proliferation, cell death, cell cycle and cell assembly and organization, compared to benign peritoneal fluids. Top networks up-regulated by OC ascites included Akt and NF-κB survival pathways whereas vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) pathway was down-regulated.
The results of this study not only provide evidence supporting the importance of the interplay between cancer cells and HPMCs but also define the role that the tumor environment plays in these interactions.
PMCID: PMC4008408  PMID: 24761768
8.  Modification of the Tumor Microenvironment in KRAS or c-MYC-Induced Ovarian Cancer-Associated Peritonitis 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(8):e0160330.
The most common properties of oncogenes are cell proliferation and the prevention of apoptosis in malignant cells, which, as a consequence, induce tumor formation and dissemination. However, the effects of oncogenes on the tumor microenvironment (TME) have not yet been examined in detail. The accumulation of ascites accompanied by chronic inflammation and elevated concentrations of VEGF is a hallmark of the progression of ovarian cancer. We herein demonstrated the mechanisms by which oncogenes contribute to modulating the ovarian cancer microenvironment. c-MYC and KRAS were transduced into the mouse ovarian cancer cell line ID8. ID8, ID8-c-MYC, or ID8-KRAS cells were then injected into the peritoneal cavities of C57/BL6 mice and the production of ascites was assessed. ID8-c-MYC and ID8-KRAS both markedly accelerated ovarian cancer progression in vivo, whereas no significant differences were observed in proliferative activity in vitro. ID8-KRAS in particular induced the production of ascites, which accumulated between approximately two to three weeks after the injection, more rapidly than ID8 and ID8-c-MYC (between nine and ten weeks and between six and seven weeks, respectively). VEGF concentrations in ascites significantly increased in c-MYC-induced ovarian cancer, whereas the concentrations of inflammatory cytokines in ascites were significantly high in KRAS-induced ovarian cancer and were accompanied by an increased number of neutrophils in ascites. A cytokine array revealed that KRAS markedly induced the expression of granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) in ID8 cells. These results suggest that oncogenes promote cancer progression by modulating the TME in favor of cancer progression.
PMCID: PMC4970724  PMID: 27483433
9.  Patients with spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, and malignant and cirrhotic ascites. 
BACKGROUND: Cytokines play a key role in the regulation of cells of the immune system and also have been implicated in the pathogenesis of malignant diseases. METHOD AND PATIENTS: We studied tumor necrosis factor-alpha, tumor necrosis factor receptor and C-reactive protein levels in both ascitic fluid and serum in patients with spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP) (n = 22), and in the malignant (n = 38) and cirrhotic (n = 32) ascites. RESULTS: C-reactive protein, tumor necrosis factor-alpha and tumor necrosis factor receptor levels in the ascitic fluid were found to be elevated in the SBP (p < 0.001) and malignant groups (p < 0.005) when compared with the sterile cirrhotic group. C-reactive protein levels in the serum were found to be elevated in the SBP group when compared with the sterile cirrhotic (p < 0.001) and malignant group (p < 0.005). Tumor necrosis factor-alpha in the serum was significantly elevated in the SBP when compared with the cirrhotic (p < 0.005) and malignant ascites (p < 0.001). Sensitivity and specificity of ascitic fluid CRP in discriminating malignant 84% and 67% and SBP from sterile ascites were 90% and 76%, respectively. Sensitivity and specificity of ascitic fluid TNF-alpha in discriminating malignant 77% and 60% and SBP from sterile ascites were 82% and 66%, respectively. Sensitivity and specificity of TNF-r p60 in discriminating malignant 74% and 70% and SBP from sterile ascites were 80% and 76%, respectively. CONCLUSION: The sensitivity and specificity of ascitic fluid CRP, TNF-alpha and TNF-r values were found to be similar. Ascitic fluid Creactive protein to differentiate SBP and malignant ascitic from cirrhotic ascites are cheap, practical and safe tests used in the differential diagnosis of ascites.
PMCID: PMC2568775  PMID: 15712792
10.  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
11.  Microenvironmental effects limit efficacy of thymoquinone treatment in a mouse model of ovarian cancer 
Molecular Cancer  2015;14:192.
Ovarian cancer is the most lethal gynecologic malignancy, with limited treatment options for chemoresistant disease. An important link between inflammation and peritoneal spread of ovarian cancer is NF-κB signaling. Thymoquinone (TQ) exerts multiple anti-tumorigenic cellular effects, including NF-κB inhibition. We aimed to investigate the therapeutic potential of TQ in an established murine syngeneic model of ovarian cancer.
ID8-NGL mouse ovarian cancer cells stably expressing an NF-κB reporter transgene were injected intra-peritoneally into C57BL/6 mice, and mice were treated with TQ or vehicle for 10 or 30 days. TQ was combined with the macrophage depleting drug, liposomal clodronate, in selected experiments. Effects on peritoneal tumor burden were measured by volume of ascites, number of peritoneal implants and mesenteric tumor mass. NF-κB reporter activity and markers of proliferation and apoptosis were measured in tumors and in confirmatory in vitro experiments. Protein or mRNA expression of M1 (anti-tumor) and M2 (pro-tumor) macrophage markers, and soluble cytokine profiles, were examined from harvested ascites fluid, peritoneal lavages and/or tumor sections. 2-tailed Mann–Whitney tests were used for measuring differences between groups in in vivo experiments.
Consistent with its effects in vitro, TQ reduced proliferation and increased apoptosis in ID8-NGL tumors after 10 and 30 day treatment. Prolonged TQ treatment did not significantly alter tumor number or mass compared to vehicle, but rather exerted an overall deleterious effect by stimulating ascites formation. Increased ascites was accompanied by elevated NF-κB activity in tumors and macrophages, increased pro-tumor M2 macrophages and expression of pro-tumorigenic soluble factors such as VEGF in ascites fluid, and increased tumor infiltration of M2 macrophages. In contrast, a 10 day exposure to TQ produced no ascites, and reduced tumor NF-κB activity, M2 macrophages and soluble VEGF levels. Peritoneal macrophage depletion by clodronate significantly reduced tumor burden. However, TQ-stimulated ascites was further enhanced by co-treatment with clodronate, with macrophages present overwhelmingly of the M2 phenotype.
Our findings show that pro-tumorigenic microenvironmental effects limited the efficacy of TQ in a syngeneic mouse model of ovarian cancer, and provide caution regarding its potential use in clinical trials in ovarian cancer patients.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12943-015-0463-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4640396  PMID: 26552746
NF-κB activity; Ovarian cancer; Syngeneic mouse model; Macrophages; Thymoquinone; VEGF
12.  Expression and significance of cyclooxygenase-2 mRNA in benign and malignant ascites 
AIM: To investigate the mRNA expression of cyclooxygensae-2 (COX-2) in benign and malignant ascites, and to explore the difference in COX-2 mRNA expression among different diseases.
METHODS: A total of 36 samples were collected from the Fifth Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-Sen University and divided into two experimental groups: benign ascites (n = 21) and malignant ascites (n = 15). Benign ascites included cirrhotic ascites (n = 10) and tuberculous ascites (n = 5). Malignant ascites included oophoroma (n = 7), cancer of colon (n = 5), cancer of the liver (n = 6), gastric cancer (n = 2), and bladder carcinoma (n = 1). The mRNA expression of COX-2 in ascites was examined with reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) technology, and the positive rate of COX-2 mRNA was compared between different diseases.
RESULTS: The positive rate of COX-2 mRNA in malignant ascites was 42.9% (9/21), which was significantly higher than in benign ascites, 6.7% (1/15), difference being significant between these two groups (χ2 = 4.051, P = 0.044). The proportion of the positive rate in the malignant ascites was as follows: ovarian cancers 57.1% (4/7), colon cancer 40.0% (2/5), liver cancer 33.3% (2/6), gastric cancer 50.0% (1/2), and bladder cancer 0.00% (0/1). However, there was no significant difference in COX-2 mRNA expression among various tumors with malignant ascites (χ2 = 1.614, P = 0.806). Among the benign ascites, COX-2 mRNA levels were different between the tuberculous ascites (0/5) and cirrhotic ascites (1/10), but there was no significant difference (P = 1.000).
CONCLUSION: COX-2 mRNA, detected by RT-PCR, is useful in the differential diagnosis of benign and malignant ascites, which also has potential value in the clinical diagnosis of tumors.
PMCID: PMC3812489  PMID: 24187465
Ascites; Cyclooxygensae-2 mRNA; Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction; Malignant tumor
13.  Cytokine Profiling of Ascites at Primary Surgery Identifies an Interaction of Tumor Necrosis Factor-α and Interleukin-6 in Predicting Reduced Progression-Free Survival in Epithelial Ovarian Cancer 
Gynecologic oncology  2015;138(2):352-357.
Epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) typically presents with advanced disease. Even with optimal debulking and response to adjuvant chemotherapy, the majority of patients will have disease relapse. We evaluated cytokine and chemokine profiles in ascites at primary surgery as biomarkers for progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) in patients with advanced EOC.
Retrospective analysis of patients (n =70) who underwent surgery at Roswell Park Cancer Institute between 2002-12, followed by platinum-based chemotherapy.
The mean age at diagnosis was 61.8 years, 85.3% had serous EOC, and 95.7% had stage IIIB, IIIC, or IV disease. Univariate analysis showed that ascites levels of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α were associated with reduced PFS after primary surgery. Although the ascites concentration of interleukin (IL)-6 was not by itself predictive of PFS, we found that stratifying patients by high TNF-α and high IL-6 levels identified a sub-group of patients at high risk for rapid disease relapse. This effect was largely independent of clinical prognostic variables.
The combination of high TNF-α and high IL-6 ascites levels at primary surgery predicts worse PFS in patients with advanced EOC. These results suggest an interaction between ascites TNF-α and IL-6 in driving tumor progression and resistance to chemotherapy in advanced EOC, and raise the potential for pre-treatment ascites levels of these cytokines as prognostic biomarkers. This study involved a small sample of patients and was an exploratory analysis; therefore, findings require validation in a larger independent cohort.
PMCID: PMC4522366  PMID: 26001328
Ascites; TNF-α; IL-6; ovarian cancer; prognosis
14.  Role of VEGF and CD44v6 in differentiating benign from malignant ascites 
World Journal of Gastroenterology  2003;9(11):2596-2600.
AIM: To detect the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and soluble splice variant 6 of CD44 (sCD44v6) levels in ascites and to explore their role in differentiating benign from malignant ascites.
METHODS: Cirrhotic ascites (n = 36), tuberculosis ascites (n = 8) and malignant ascites (n = 23) were collected and studied. Concentrations of soluble VEGF and sCD44v6 in various kinds of ascites (n = 67) were measured using a sandwich enzyme-linked immunoadsorbent assay.
RESULTS: VEGF and sCD44v6 levels in malignant ascites were 640.74 ± 264.81 pg/mL and 89.22 ± 38.20 ng/mL, respectively, both of which were significantly higher than those in cirrhotic ascites and tuberculous ascites (q = 18.98, 11.89 and q = 8.92, 5.09; P < 0.01). However, the levels of VEGF and sCD44v6 in cirrhotic and tuberculous ascites had no significant difference (q = 0.48, 0.75; P > 0.05). Furthermore, VEGF levels in malignant ascites in patients with ovarian cancer were higher than those with gastric and colon cancer (q = 5.03, 6.79; P < 0.01, respectively). But differences of VEGF levels between gastric and colon cancer were not significant (q = 1.90, P > 0.05). Whereas, sCD44v6 levels in malignant ascites from patients with ovarian, gastric and colon cancer had no significant difference (q = 0.06, 0.91, 0.35; P > 0.05, respectirely). In comparison with cirrhotic and tuberculous ascites, when the upper limit of its VEGF mean levels 119.44 pg/mL (70.90 ± 48.54) and sCD44v6 mean levels 63.59 ng/mL (44.42 ± 19.17) was taken as the minimum cutoff limit, the sensitivity and specificity of VEGF and sCD44v6 of this assay to the diagnos is of malignant ascites were 91.3%, 90.9% and 73.9%, 88.7% respectively.
CONCLUSION: Elevated levels of VEGF and sCD44v6 may be useful in differential diagnosis of benign and malignant ascites.
PMCID: PMC4656549  PMID: 14606105
15.  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
16.  Leptin levels in the differential diagnosis between benign and malignant ascites 
AIM: To evaluate the role of leptin levels in the differential diagnosis of ascites.
METHODS: Ascitic leptin, TNFα and serum leptin levels were measured in 77 patients with ascites (35 with malignancies, 30 cirrhosis and 12 tuberculosis). Control serum samples were obtained from 20 healthy subjects. Leptin and TNFα levels were measured by ELISA. Body mass index (BMI) and percentage of body fat (BFM) by skin fold measurement were calculated for all patients and control groups. Peritoneal biopsy, ascites cytology and cultures or biochemical values were used for the diagnosis of patients.
RESULTS: In patients with malignancies, the mean serum and ascites leptin levels and their ratios were significantly decreased compared to the other patient groups and controls. In tuberculosis peritonitis, ascitic fluid TNFα levels were significantly higher than malignant ascites and cirrhotic sterile ascites. BMI and BFM values did not distinguish between patients and controls.
CONCLUSION: In patients with malignant ascites, levels of leptin and TNFα were significantly lower than in patients with tuberculous ascites.
PMCID: PMC4065894  PMID: 17230608
Leptin; Benign ascites; Malignant ascites; Tuberculosis; Cirrhosis
17.  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
18.  Disease dependent qualitative and quantitative differences in the inflammatory response to ascites occurring in cirrhotics 
World Journal of Hepatology  2014;6(2):85-91.
AIM: To assess differing patterns and levels of ascitic fluid cyctokine and growth factors exist between those with a high risk and low risk of spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP).
METHODS: A total of 57 consecutive patients with ascites requiring a large volume paracentesis were studied. Their age, gender, specific underlying disease conditions were recorded after a review of their clinical records. Each underwent a routine assessment prior to their paracentesis consisting of a complete blood count, complete metabolic profile and prothrombin time/international normalized ratio (INR) determination. The ascitic fluid was cultured and a complete cell count and albumin determination was obtained on the fluid. In addition, blood and ascitic fluid was assessed for the levels of interleukin interleukin (IL)-1A, IL-1B, IL-2, IL-4, IL-8, IL-10, monocyte chemotactic protein (MCP)-1, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, interferon (IFN)-γ, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and epidermal growth factor (EGF) utilizing the Randox Biochip platforms (Boston, MA). A serum-ascites gradient, for each cytokine and growth factor was calculated. The results are reported as mean ± SEM between disease groups with statistical analysis consisting of the student t-test (two tailed) with a P value of 0.05 defining significance.
RESULTS: No clinically important demographic or biochemical differences between the 4 groups studied were evident. In contrast, marked difference in the cytokine and growth factors levels and pattern were evident between the 4 disease groups. Individuals with alcoholic cirrhosis had the highest levels of IL-1A, IL-1B, IL-4, IFNγ. Those with malignant disease had the highest levels of IL-2. Those with hepatitis C virus (HCV) associated cirrhosis had the highest value for IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, MCP-1 and VEGF. Those with cardiac disease had the highest level of TNF-α and EGF. The calculated serum- ascites gradients for the cardiac and malignant disease groups had a greater frequency of negative values signifying greater levels of IL-8, IL-10 and MCP-1 in ascites than did those with alcohol or HCV disease.
CONCLUSION: These data document important differences in the cytokine and growth factor levels in plasma, ascitic fluid and the calculated plasma - ascites fluid gradients in cirrhotics requiring a large volume paracentesis. These differences may be important in determining the risk for bacterial peritonitis.
PMCID: PMC3934639  PMID: 24575167
Ascites; Cirrhosis; Growth factors; Inflammation; Procalcitonin
19.  Antitumor effect of nuclear factor-κB decoy transfer by mannose-modified bubble lipoplex into macrophages in mouse malignant ascites 
Cancer Science  2014;105(8):1049-1055.
Patients with malignant ascites (MAs) display several symptoms, such as dyspnea, nausea, pain, and abdominal tenderness, resulting in a significant reduction in their quality of life. Tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) play a crucial role in MA progression. Because TAMs have a tumor-promoting M2 phenotype, conversion of the M2 phenotypic function of TAMs would be promising for MA treatment. Nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) is a master regulator of macrophage polarization. Here, we developed targeted transfer of a NF-κB decoy into TAMs by ultrasound (US)-responsive, mannose-modified liposome/NF-κB decoy complexes (Man-PEG bubble lipoplexes) in a mouse peritoneal dissemination model of Ehrlich ascites carcinoma. In addition, we investigated the effects of NF-κB decoy transfection into TAMs on MA progression and mouse survival rates. Intraperitoneal injection of Man-PEG bubble lipoplexes and US exposure transferred the NF-κB decoy into TAMs effectively. When the NF-κB decoy was delivered into TAMs by this method in the mouse peritoneal dissemination model, mRNA expression of the Th2 cytokine interleukin (IL)-10 in TAMs was decreased significantly. In contrast, mRNA levels of Th1 cytokines (IL-12, tumor necrosis factor-α, and IL-6) were increased significantly. Moreover, the expression level of vascular endothelial growth factor in ascites was suppressed significantly, and peritoneal angiogenesis showed a reduction. Furthermore, NF-κB decoy transfer into TAMs significantly decreased the ascitic volume and number of Ehrlich ascites carcinoma cells in ascites, and prolonged mouse survival. In conclusion, we transferred a NF-κB decoy efficiently by Man-PEG bubble lipoplexes with US exposure into TAMs, which may be a novel approach for MA treatment.
PMCID: PMC4317846  PMID: 24850474
Drug targeting; Ehrlich ascites carcinoma; nuclear factor-κB decoy; sonoporation; tumor-associated macrophages
20.  Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase promotes peritoneal metastasis of ovarian cancer by inducing an immunosuppressive environment 
Cancer Science  2014;105(8):966-973.
Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) is a tryptophan-catabolizing enzyme that has immunoregulatory functions. Our prior study showed that tumoral IDO overexpression is involved in disease progression and impaired patient survival in human ovarian cancer, although its mechanism remains unclear. The purpose of the present study is to clarify the role of IDO during the process of peritoneal dissemination of ovarian cancer. Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase cDNA was transfected into the murine ovarian carcinoma cell line OV2944-HM-1, establishing stable clones of IDO-overexpressing cells (HM-1-IDO). Then HM-1-IDO or control vector-transfected cells (HM-1-mock) were i.p. transplanted into syngeneic immunocompetent mice. The HM-1-IDO-transplanted mice showed significantly shortened survival compared with HM-1-mock-transplanted (control) mice. On days 11 and 14 following transplantation, the tumor weight of peritoneal dissemination and ascites volume were significantly increased in HM-1-IDO-transplanted mice compared with those of control mice. This tumor-progressive effect was coincident with significantly reduced numbers of CD8+ T cells and natural killer cells within tumors as well as increased levels of transforming growth factor-β and interleukin-10 in ascites. Finally, treatment with the IDO inhibitor 1-methyl-tryptophan significantly suppressed tumor dissemination and ascites with reduced transforming growth factor-β secretion. These findings showed that tumor-derived IDO promotes the peritoneal dissemination of ovarian cancer through suppression of tumor-infiltrating effector T cell and natural killer cell recruitment and reciprocal enhancement of immunosuppressive cytokines in ascites, creating an immunotolerogenic environment within the peritoneal cavity. Therefore, IDO may be a promising molecular target for the therapeutic strategy of ovarian cancer.
PMCID: PMC4317851  PMID: 24826982
Immunosuppression; indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase; ovarian cancer; peritoneal dissemination; tolerance
21.  A ligand-free, soluble urokinase receptor is present in the ascitic fluid from patients with ovarian cancer. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1993;92(5):2160-2167.
We have identified a soluble form of the human urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA) receptor (uPAR) in the ascitic fluids from patients with ovarian cancer. After purification of uPAR from the ascitic fluids by ligand-affinity chromatography (pro-uPA Sepharose), the uPAR was initially identified by cross-linking to a radiolabeled amino-terminal fragment of human uPA. The uPAR purified from the ascitic fluid has no bound ligand (uPA), as similar amounts can be purified by ligand-affinity chromatography as by immuno-affinity chromatography. uPAR from ascitic fluids partitions in the water phase after a temperature-dependent phase separation of a detergent extract. It therefore lacks at least the lipid moiety of the glycophospholipid anchor present in cellular-bound uPARs. It is highly glycosylated and the deglycosylated form has the same electrophoretic mobility as previously characterized cellular uPAR from other sources. The immunoreactivity of the purified uPAR from the ascitic fluid is indistinguishable from that of characterized uPAR, demonstrated by Western blotting with three different anti-uPAR monoclonal antibodies. The uPAR was found in 11 of 11 ascitic fluids from patients with ovarian cancer and in elevated amounts in the plasma from 2 of 3 patients. The concentration of soluble uPAR in the ascitic fluid was estimated to range between 1 and 10 ng/ml. Human soluble uPAR, derived from the tumor cells, was also found in the ascitic fluid and serum from nude mice xenografted intraperitoneally with three different human ovarian carcinomas.
PMCID: PMC288394  PMID: 8227331
22.  Disaggregation and invasion of ovarian carcinoma ascites spheroids 
Malignant ascites often develops in advanced stages of ovarian carcinoma, consisting of single and aggregated tumor cells, or spheroids. Spheroids have commonly been used as tumor models to study drug efficacy, and have shown resistance to some chemotherapies and radiation. However, little is known about the adhesive or invasive capabilities of spheroids, and whether this particular cellular component of the ascites can contribute to dissemination of ovarian cancer. Here, we examined the invasive ability of ascites spheroids recovered from seven ovarian carcinoma patients and one primary peritoneal carcinoma (PPC) patient.
Ascites spheroids were isolated from patients, purified, and immunohistochemical analyses were performed by a pathologist to confirm diagnosis. In vitro assays were designed to quantify spheroid disaggregation on a variety of extracellular matrices and dissemination on and invasion into normal human mesothelial cell monolayers. Cell proliferation and viability were determined in each assay, and statistical significance demonstrated by the student's t-test.
Spheroids from all of the patients' ascites samples disaggregated on extracellular matrix components, with the PPC spheroids capable of complete disaggregation on type I collagen. Additionally, all of the ascites spheroid samples adhered to and disaggregated on live human mesothelial cell monolayers, typically without invading them. However, the PPC ascites spheroids and one ovarian carcinoma ascites spheroid sample occasionally formed invasive foci in the mesothelial cell monolayers, suggestive of a more invasive phenotype.
We present here in vitro assays using ascites spheroids that imitate the spread of ovarian cancer in vivo. Our results suggest that systematic studies of the ascites cellular content are necessary to understand the biology of ovarian carcinoma.
PMCID: PMC1397876  PMID: 16433903
23.  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
24.  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
25.  Proteomic Analysis of Ovarian Cancer Proximal Fluids: Validation of Elevated Peroxiredoxin 1 in Patient Peripheral Circulation 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e25056.
Epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) is the deadliest gynecologic malignancy in the United States. Unfortunately, a validated protein biomarker-screening test to detect early stage disease from peripheral blood has not yet been developed. The present investigation assesses the ability to identify tumor relevant proteins from ovarian cancer proximal fluids, including tissue interstitial fluid (TIF) and corresponding ascites, from patients with papillary serous EOC and translates these findings to targeted blood-based immunoassays.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Paired TIF and ascites collected from four papillary serous EOC patients at the time of surgery underwent immunodepletion, resolution by 1D gel electrophoresis and in-gel digestion for analysis by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry, which resulted in an aggregate identification of 569 and 171 proteins from TIF and ascites, respectively. Of these, peroxiredoxin I (PRDX1) was selected for validation in serum by ELISA and demonstrated to be present and significantly elevated (p = 0.0188) in 20 EOC patients with a mean level of 26.0 ng/mL (±9.27 SEM) as compared to 4.19 ng/mL (±2.58 SEM) from 16 patients with normal/benign ovarian pathology.
We have utilized a workflow for harvesting EOC-relevant proximal biofluids, including TIF and ascites, for proteomic analysis. Among the differentially abundant proteins identified from these proximal fluids, PRDX1 was demonstrated to be present in serum and shown by ELISA to be elevated by nearly 6-fold in papillary serous EOC patients relative to normal/benign patients. Our findings demonstrate the facile ability to discover potential EOC-relevant proteins in proximal fluids and confirm their presence in peripheral blood serum. In addition, our finding of elevated levels of PRDX1 in the serum of EOC patients versus normal/benign patients warrants further evaluation as a tumor specific biomarker for EOC.
PMCID: PMC3184097  PMID: 21980378

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