Survival Is Related to Estrogen Signal Transduction Pathway Activity in Postmenopausal Women Diagnosed with High-Grade Serous Ovarian Carcinoma

L. van Lieshout*, P. van der Ploeg, Y. Wesseling-Rozendaal, A. van de Stolpe, S. Bosch, M. Lentjes-Beer, M. Ottenheijm, A. Meriaan, C. Vos, J. de Hullu, L. Massuger, R. Bekkers, J. Piek*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Simple Summary:& nbsp;All cells have a complex internal network of 'communication chains' called signal transduction pathways (STPs). Through interaction of different proteins in STPs, they are partly responsible for the behavior of a cell. In our study, we investigated the activity of six STPs in 85 women with advanced stage high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSC). To investigate the relation between and differences in survival and STP activity, women with a short disease-free survival (below 12 months) and a long disease-free survival (above 24 months) were included. We found no differences in mean STP activity between short-term survivors (52 women) and long-term survivors (33 women). However, when we analyzed postmenopausal women, we found that both disease-free and overall survival were related to estrogen receptor (ER) pathway signaling. This indicates that a better survival outcome was related to a more active ER pathway in this subgroup.High-grade serous ovarian carcinoma (HGSC), the most common subtype of ovarian cancer, has a high mortality rate. Although there are some factors associated with survival, such as stage of disease, there are remarkable differences in survival among women diagnosed with advanced stage disease. In this study, we investigate possible relations between survival and signal transduction pathway (STP) activity. We assessed the functional activity of the androgen receptor (AR), estrogen receptor (ER), phosphoinositide-3-kinase (PI3K), Hedgehog (HH), transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) and canonical wingless-type MMTV integration site (Wnt) pathway in 85 primary tumor samples of patients with FIGO stage IIIC to IVB HGSC and disease-free survival (DFS) below 12 (n = 52) or over 24 months (n = 33). There were no significant differences in median pathway activity between patients with a short and long DFS. In univariate Cox proportional hazards analysis, ER pathway activity was related to a favorable DFS and overall survival (OS) in postmenopausal women (p = 0.033 and p = 0.041, respectively), but not in premenopausal women. We divided the postmenopausal group into subgroups based on ER pathway activity quartiles. Survival analysis revealed that postmenopausal women in the lowest ER quartile had a shorter DFS and OS (log-rank p = 0.006 and p < 0.001, respectively). Furthermore, we were able to form subgroups of patients based on an inverse relation between ER and PI3K pathway activity. In conclusion, in postmenopausal patients with advanced stage HGSC, a poorer survival outcome was associated with low functional ER pathway activity.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5101
Number of pages16
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021


  • BETA
  • estrogen signaling
  • ovarian cancer
  • signal transduction pathways


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