Overexpression of p21(WAF1-CIP1) and MDM2 characterizes serous borderline ovarian tumors

Juan P. Palazzo*, Federico Monzon, Melissa Burke, Terry Hyslop, Charles Dunton, Alan Barusevicius, David Capuzzi, Albert J. Kovatich

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Ovarian epithelial tumors are classically divided into benign, malignant, and borderline or of low malignant potential. It is controversial whether this last group of tumors should be considered benign or malignant. Expression of cell cycle markers has recently been linked to tumor behavior and response to treatment. It has been shown that one of the pathways through which the p53 gene controls the cell cycle is by transactivating p21 (WAF1/CIP1), a cyclin-dependent kinase (cdk) inhibitor. By inhibiting cdks, p21(WAF1/CIP1) blocks the G-1 to S-phase transition in the cell cycle. p53 can be regulated by MDM2 (murine double minute-2) through direct inactivation or promotion of its cytoplasmic degradation. In an attempt to investigate the cell cycle checkpoint mechanisms of these tumors, we studied the expression of p53, Ki-67, MDM2, and p21(WAF1/CIP1) by immunohistochemistry. We analyzed the expression of these proteins in 19 cystadenomas (8 serous and 11 mucinous), 40 borderline tumors (31 serous and 9 mucinous), and 18 serous carcinomas of the ovary, p21(WAF1/CIP1) was expressed in 7 of 19 (37%) benign cystadenomas, 32 of 40 (80%) borderline tumors (93.5% of serous and 33% of mucinous), and in 9 of 18 (50%) serous carcinomas. Ki-67 was only weakly expressed in 8 of 19 (42%) benign cystadenomas, all borderline tumors showed Ki-67 staining in less than 50% of the cells, and 55% of serous carcinomas stained in more than 50% of tumor cells, p53 was absent in all but 1 of the cystadenomas, was expressed in 9 of 40 (22.5%) borderline tumors (25.8% of serous and 11% of mucinous), and in 10 of 18 (55%) carcinomas. All 11 implants of serous borderline tumors expressed p21(WAF1/CIP1). Most serous borderline tumors expressed higher levels of MDM2 compared with the benign cystadenomas and carcinomas. Four of the serous borderline implants (40%) expressed MDM2. Coexpression of p21(WAF1/CIP1) and MDM2 characterizes serous borderline tumors of the ovary and their implants, which suggests that these cell cycle control proteins are important in these tumors and may be related to tumor progression. Low expression of p53 protein in serous borderline tumors might be in part mediated by MDM2. This suggests that the p53 pathway is intact in most of these tumors, in contrast with carcinomas, in which high expression of p53 has been related to mutations of this gene. (C) 2000 by W. B. Saunders Company.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)698-704
Number of pages7
JournalHuman Pathology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Ki- 67
  • MDM2
  • Ovarian epithelial tumors
  • p21(WAF1/CIP1)
  • p53


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