TFF3 Expression as Stratification Marker in Borderline Epithelial Tumors of the Ovary
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Borderline tumors (BOT) of the ovary account for 10% to 20% of ovarian neoplasms. Like ovarian cancer, BOT encompass several different histological subtypes (serous, mucinous, endometrioid, clear cell, transitional cell and mixed) with serous (SBOT) and mucinous (MBOT) the most common. Current hypotheses suggest low-grade serous carcinoma may develop in a stepwise fashion from SBOT whereas the majority of high grade serous carcinomas develop rapidly presumably from inclusion cysts or ovarian surface epithelium. The pathogenesis of mucinous ovarian tumors is still puzzling. Molecular markers could help to better define relationships between such entities. Trefoil factor-3 (TFF3) is an estrogen-regulated gene associated with prognosis in different types of cancer. It has also been included in a recent marker panel predicting subtypes of ovarian carcinoma. We analyzed the expression of TFF3 by immunohistochemistry in a cohort of 137 BOT and its association with histopathological features. Overall expression rate of TFF3 was 21.9%. None of the BOT with serous and endometrioid histology displayed strong TFF3 expression. On the other hand, TFF3 was highly expressed in 61.4% of MBOT cases and 33.3% of BOT with mixed histology (P < 0.001) suggesting a potential function of the protein in that subtypes. Associations of TFF3 expression with FIGO stage and micropapillary pattern were significant in the overall cohort but confounded by their correlation with histological subtypes. The highly specific expression of TFF3 in MBOT may help to further clarify potential relationships of tumors with mucinous histology and warrants further studies.
KeywordsOvarian cancer Borderline tumors Histological subtypes Prognosis
We thank Katerina Brinkmann and Samira Adel for expert technical assistance. Furthermore, the authors thank Prof. Dr. M.-L. Hansmann, Senckenberg Institute of Pathology, University of Frankfurt, for providing formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue samples. This work was supported by grants from the Margarete Bonifer-Stiftung, Bad Soden, the H.W. & J. Hector-Stiftung, Mannheim (grant number: M67), and the BANSS-Stiftung, Biedenkopf.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors have declared no conflicts of interest.
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