The inhibins and ovarian cancer

H. G. Burger, P. J. Fuller, S. Chu, P. Mamers, A. Drummond, B. Susil, P. Neva, D. M. Robertson

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Interest in inhibin as a marker of ovarian malignancy was stimulated by the description of elevated immunoreactive inhibin levels in the sera of patients with granulosa cell tumours. Several groups have confirmed the value of serum inhibin in the diagnosis and follow-up of patients with this uncommon malignancy. Immunoreactive inhibin levels are also frequently elevated in patients with mucinous cystadenocarcinoma and less frequently in other forms of ovarian tumour. Assay of sera using the specific dimeric inhibin assays has shown that ovarian tumours are able to secrete dimeric inhibin particularly inhibin B. The less specific α-subunit directed assays, however, most frequently show elevated concentrations. Used in combination with CA125 as a dual tumour marker, it appears in principle that inhibin can be a useful diagnostic agent. Immunohistochemistry for the inhibin subunits has been reported with increasing frequency as a helpful method to assess suspected ovarian stromal cell tumours. Its diagnostic accuracy for other types of ovarian adenocarcinoma appears less reliable. Expression of the inhibin subunit mRNAs has been demonstrated in a variety of ovarian malignancies. The observation that inhibin levels are elevated in ovarian cancer has stimulated studies of their relevance to the molecular pathogenesis of these malignancies. Findings to date have been largely negative with no evidence for activating mutations of the FSH receptor or of the post-receptor signalling pathway proteins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-148
Number of pages4
JournalMolecular and Cellular Endocrinology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • α-Subunit of inhibin
  • Granulosa cell tumour
  • Inhibin
  • Mucinous tumour

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