Functional estrogen receptor signal transduction pathway activity and antihormonal therapy response in low-grade ovarian carcinoma

C.S.E. Hendrikse*, P. van der Ploeg, N.M.A. van de Kruis, J.H.C. Wilting, F. Oosterkamp, P.M.M. Theelen, C.A.R. Lok, J.A. de Hullu, H.P.M. Smedts, M.C. Vos, B.M. Pijlman, L.F.S. Kooreman, J. Bulten, M.H.F.M. Lentjes-Beer, S.L. Bosch, A. van de Stolpe, S. Lambrechts, R.L.M. Bekkers, J.M.J. Piek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Web of Science)


BackgroundAdvanced low-grade ovarian carcinoma (LGOC) is difficult to treat. In several studies, high estrogen receptor (ER) protein expression was observed in patients with LGOC, which suggests that antihormonal therapy (AHT) is a treatment option. However, only a subgroup of patients respond to AHT, and this response cannot be adequately predicted by currently used immunohistochemistry (IHC). A possible explanation is that IHC only takes the ligand, but not the activity, of the whole signal transduction pathway (STP) into account. Therefore, in this study, the authors assessed whether functional STP activity can be an alternative tool to predict response to AHT in LGOC. MethodsTumor tissue samples were obtained from patients with primary or recurrent LGOC who subsequently received AHT. Histoscores of ER and progesterone receptor (PR) were determined. In addition, STP activity of the ER STP and of six other STPs known to play a role in ovarian cancer was assessed and compared with the STP activity of healthy postmenopausal fallopian tube epithelium. ResultsPatients who had normal ER STP activity had a progression-free survival (PFS) of 16.1 months. This was significantly shorter in patients who had low and very high ER STP activity, with a median PFS of 6.0 and 2.1 months, respectively (p < .001). Unlike ER histoscores, PR histoscores were strongly correlated to the ER STP activity and thus to PFS. ConclusionsAberrant low and very high functional ER STP activity and low PR histoscores in patients with LGOC indicate decreased response to AHT. ER IHC is not representative of functional ER STP activity and is not related to PFS.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1361-1371
Number of pages11
Issue number9
Early online date1 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2023


  • antihormonal therapy
  • immunohistochemistry
  • ovarian carcinoma
  • signal transduction pathway
  • survival
  • targeted therapy

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