Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 21, Issue 8, pp 1193–1201 | Cite as

Mumps and ovarian cancer: modern interpretation of an historic association

  • Daniel W. CramerEmail author
  • Allison F. Vitonis
  • Simone P. Pinheiro
  • John R. McKolanis
  • Raina N. Fichorova
  • Kevin E. Brown
  • Todd F. Hatchette
  • Olivera J. Finn
Original paper



Epidemiologic studies found childhood mumps might protect against ovarian cancer. To explain this association, we investigated whether mumps might engender immunity to ovarian cancer through antibodies against the cancer-associated antigen MUC1 abnormally expressed in the inflamed parotid gland.


Through various health agencies, we obtained sera from 161 cases with mumps parotitis. Sera were obtained from 194 healthy controls. We used an ELISA to measure anti-MUC1 antibodies and electro-chemiluminescence assays to measure MUC1 and CA 125. Log-transformed measurements were analyzed by t-tests, generalized linear models, and Pearson or Spearman correlations. We also conducted a meta-analysis of all published studies regarding mumps and ovarian cancer.


Adjusting for assay batch, age, and sex, the level of anti-MUC1 antibodies was significantly higher in mumps cases compared to controls (p = 0.002). Free circulating levels of CA 125, but not MUC1, were also higher in cases (p = 0.02). From the meta-analysis, the pooled odds ratio estimate (and 95% CI) for the mumps and ovarian cancer association was 0.81 (0.68–0.96) (p = 0.01).


Mumps parotitis may lead to expression and immune recognition of a tumor-associated form of MUC1 and create effective immune surveillance of ovarian cancer cells that express this form of MUC1.


Ovarian cancer Mumps parotitis MUC1 CA125 



We thank Claudia Krause, Bernard Johnson, and Michael Trythall for helping us assemble the specimen sets and for their thoughtful comments on the manuscript and Huaiping Yan and Vanessa Tang-Fernandez for laboratory assistance. Grants: US Department of Defense #W81XWH-07-1-0292 and NIH Grant R01CA123170.


  1. 1.
    West RO (1966) Epidemiology study of malignancies of the ovaries. Cancer 19:1001–1007CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Wynder EL, Dodo H, Barber HR (1969) Epidemiology of cancer of the ovary. Cancer 23(2):352–370CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Newhouse ML, Pearson RM, Fullerton JM, Boesen EA, Shannon HS (1977) A case control study of carcinoma of the ovary. Br J Prev Soc Med 31(3):148–153PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Menczer J, Modan M, Ranon L, Golan A (1979) Possible role of mumps virus in the etiology of ovarian cancer. Cancer 43(4):1375–1379CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Golan A, Joosting AC, Orchard ME (1979) Mumps virus and ovarian cancer. S Afr Med J 56(1):18–20PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Cramer DW, Welch WR, Cassells S, Scully RE (1983) Mumps, menarche, menopause, and ovarian cancer. Am J Obstet Gynecol 147(1):1–6PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Schiffman MH, Hartge P, Lesher LP, McGowan L (1985) Mumps and postmenopausal ovarian cancer. Am J Obstet Gynecol 152(1):116–118PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Chen Y, Wu PC, Lang JH et al (1992) Risk factors for epithelial ovarian cancer in Beijing, China. Int J Epidemiol 21(1):23–29CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Merritt MA, Green AC, Nagle CM, Webb PM (2008) Talcum powder, chronic pelvic inflammation and NSAIDs in relation to risk of epithelial ovarian cancer. Int J Cancer 122(1):170–176CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Cramer DW, Titus-Ernstoff L, McKolanis JR et al (2005) Conditions associated with antibodies against the tumor-associated antigen MUC1 and their relationship to risk for ovarian cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 14(5):1125–1131CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Hamanaka Y, Suehiro Y, Fukui M et al (2003) Circulating anti-MUC1 IgG antibodies as a favorable prognostic factor for pancreatic cancer. Int J Cancer 103(1):97–100CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Alos L, Lujan B, Castillo M et al (2005) Expression of membrane-bound mucins (MUC1 and MUC4) and secreted mucins (MUC2, MUC5AC, MUC5B, MUC6 and MUC7) in mucoepidermoid carcinomas of salivary glands. Am J Surg Pathol 29(6):806–813CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Fichorova RN, Richardson-Harman N, Alfano M et al (2008) Biological and technical variables affecting immunoassay recovery of cytokines from human serum and simulated vaginal fluid: a multicenter study. Anal Chem 80(12):4741–4751CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Egger M, Smith G, Altman D (2001) Systematic reviews in health care: meta-analysis in context, 2nd edn. BMJ Publishing Group, LondonGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Baldus SE, Engelmann K, Hanisch FG (2004) MUC1 and the MUCs: a family of human mucins with impact in cancer biology. Crit Rev Clin Lab Sci 41(2):189–231CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Vlad AM, Finn OJ (2004) Glycoprotein tumor antigens for immunotherapy of breast cancer. Breast Dis 20:73–79PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Campbell BJ, Yu LG, Rhodes JM (2001) Altered glycosylation in inflammatory bowel disease: a possible role in cancer development. Glycoconj J 18(11–12):851–858CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Jerome KR, Kirk AD, Pecher G, Ferguson WW, Finn OJ (1997) A survivor of breast cancer with immunity to MUC-1 mucin, and lactational mastitis. Cancer Immunol Immunother 43(6):355–360CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Nakajima M, Manabe T, Niki Y, Matsushima T (1998) Serum KL-6 level as a monitoring marker in a patient with pulmonary alveolar proteinosis. Thorax 53(9):809–811CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Takaishi H, Ohara S, Hotta K et al (2000) Circulating autoantibodies against purified colonic mucin in ulcerative colitis. J Gastroenterol 35(1):20–27CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Kohno N (1999) Serum marker KL-6/MUC1 for the diagnosis and management of interstitial pneumonitis. J Med Invest 46:151–158PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Vlad AM, Muller S, Cudic M et al (2002) Complex carbohydrates are not removed during processing of glycoproteins by dendritic cells: processing of tumor antigen MUC1 glycopeptides for presentation to major histocompatibility complex class II-restricted T cells. J Exp Med 196(11):1435–1446CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Okamura K, Kiyoshima T, Shima K et al (2002) Immunohistochemical expression of CA19-9 and CA125 in mucoepidermoid and adenoid cystic carcinomas of the salivary gland. Oral Oncol 38(3):244–250CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Mink PJ, Sherman ME, Devesa SS (2002) Incidence patterns of invasive and borderline ovarian tumors among white women and black women in the United States. Results from the SEER Program, 1978–1998. Cancer 95(11):2380–2389CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Tipples G, Beirnes J, Hiebert J et al (2008) Laboratory guidelines for the diagnosis of mumps v.3 (3 April 2008), Accessed 14 July 2009
  26. 26.
    Jin L, Beard S, Brown DW (1999) Genetic heterogeneity of mumps virus in the United Kingdom: identification of two new genotypes. J Infect Dis 180(3):829–833CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel W. Cramer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Allison F. Vitonis
    • 1
  • Simone P. Pinheiro
    • 2
  • John R. McKolanis
    • 3
  • Raina N. Fichorova
    • 4
  • Kevin E. Brown
    • 5
  • Todd F. Hatchette
    • 6
    • 7
  • Olivera J. Finn
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Epidemiology Center, Obstetrics and Gynecology Epidemiology CenterBrigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.US Food and Drug AdministrationSilver SpringUSA
  3. 3.Department of ImmunologyUniversity of Pittsburgh School of MedicinePittsburghUSA
  4. 4.Laboratory of Genital Tract Biology, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive BiologyBrigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  5. 5.Centre for InfectionsHealth Protection AgencyLondonUK
  6. 6.Division of Microbiology, Department of Pathology and Laboratory MedicineQueen Elizabeth II Health Sciences CentreHalifaxCanada
  7. 7.Department of PathologyDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada

Personalised recommendations