Serum sErbB1 and epidermal growth factor levels as tumor biomarkers in women with stage III or IV epithelial ovarian cancer.Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 1999 Feb; 8(2):129-37.CE
Epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) has a high mortality rate, which is due primarily to the fact that early clinical symptoms are vague and nonspecific; hence, this disease often goes undetected and untreated until in its advanced stages. Sensitive and reliable methods for detecting earlier stages of EOC are, therefore, urgently needed. Epidermal growth factor (EGF) is a ligand for EGF receptor (ErbB1); this receptor is the product of the c-erbB1 proto-oncogene. ErbB1 overexpression is common in human ovarian carcinoma-derived cell lines and tumors, in which overexpression is thought to play a critical role in tumor etiology and progression. Furthermore, ErbB1 overexpression is associated with disease recurrence and decreased patient survival. Recently, we have developed an acridinium-linked immunosorbent assay that detects a approximately 110-kDa soluble analogue of ErbB1, ie., sErbB1, in serum samples from healthy men and women (A. T. Baron, et al., J. Immunol. Methods, 219: 23-43, 1998). Here, we demonstrate that serum p110 sErbB1 levels are significantly lower in EOC patients with stage III or IV disease prior to (P < 0.0001) and shortly after (P < 0.0001) cytoreductive staging laparotomy than in healthy women of similar ages, whereas EGF levels are significantly higher than those of age-matched healthy women only in serum samples collected shortly after tumor debulking surgery (P < 0.0001). We observe that the preoperative serum sErbB1 concentration range of advanced stage EOC patients barely overlaps with the serum sErbB1 concentration range of healthy women. In addition, we show that serum sErbB1 and EGF levels changed temporally for some EOC patients who were surgically debulked of tumor and who provided a second serum sample during the course of combination chemotherapy. Finally, we observe a significant positive association between sErbB1 and EGF levels only in serum samples of EOC patients collected prior to cytoreductive surgery (correlation coefficient = 0.61968; P = 0.0027). These data suggest that epithelial ovarian tumors concomitantly affect serum sErbB1 and EGF levels. In conclusion, these data indicate that serum sErbB1 and EGF (postoperative only) levels are significantly different between EOC patients and healthy women and that altered and/or changing serum sErbB1 and EGF levels may provide important diagnostic and/or prognostic information useful for the management of patients with EOC.