Prostasin, a potential serum marker for ovarian cancer: identification through microarray technology.


Screening biomarkers for ovarian cancer are needed because of its late stage at diagnosis and poor survival. We used microarray technology to identify overexpressed genes for secretory proteins as potential serum biomarkers and selected prostasin, a serine protease normally secreted by the prostate gland, for further study.

RNA was isolated and pooled from three ovarian cancer cell lines and from three normal human ovarian surface epithelial (HOSE) cell lines. Complementary DNA generated from these pools was hybridized to a microarray slide, and genes overexpressed in the cancer cells were identified. Real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction was used to examine prostasin gene expression in ovarian cancer and HOSE cell lines. Anti-prostasin antibodies were used to examine prostasin expression and to measure serum prostasin by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in 64 case patients with ovarian cancer and in 137 control subjects. Previously determined levels of CA 125, an ovarian cancer marker, were available from about 70% of all subjects. All statistical tests were two-sided.

Prostasin was detected by immunostaining more strongly in cancerous ovarian epithelial cells and stroma than in normal ovarian tissue. The mean level of serum prostasin was 13.7 microg/mL (95% confidence interval [CI] = 10.5 to 16.9 microg/mL) in 64 case patients with ovarian cancer and 7.5 microg/mL (95% CI = 6.6 to 8.3 microg/mL) in 137 control subjects (P<.001, after adjustment for the subject's age, year of collection, and specimen quality). In 14 of 16 case patients with both preoperative and postoperative serum samples, postoperative prostasin levels were statistically significantly lower than preoperative levels (P =.004). In 37 case patients with nonmucinous ovarian cancer and in 100 control subjects for whom levels of CA 125 and prostasin were available, the combination of markers gave a sensitivity of 92% (95% CI = 78.1% to 98.3%) and a specificity of 94% (95% CI = 87.4% to 97.7%) for detecting ovarian cancer.

Prostasin is overexpressed in epithelial ovarian cancer and should be investigated further as a screening or tumor marker, alone and in combination with CA 125.

  • Berkowitz RS
  • Chao J
  • Cramer DW
  • Mok SC
  • Muto MG
  • Skates S
  • Wong K
  • Yiu GK
PubMed ID
Appears In
J Natl Cancer Inst, 2001, 93 (19)