Metallothionein expression and nuclear size in benign, borderline, and malignant serous ovarian tumours
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Metallothioneins (MTs) are low-molecular-weight proteins involved in metalloregulatory functions such as cell proliferation, growth, and differentiation. In recent years, MT expression has been linked with carcinogenesis, resistance to cancer therapy, and tumour progression. However, the significance of MT expression in ovarian cancers is at present inadequately documented. In this study, MT immunohistochemistry was performed in 12 benign, 14 borderline, and eight malignant serous tumours of the ovary. The intensity of the immunostaining was evaluated by image analysis. There was a significantly higher number of MT-immunopositive cells in the multilayered epithelial cells of borderline serous tumours (atypical proliferative serous tumours) than in the single layered epithelial cells within the same tumour, and in the single cell layer of benign serous tumours. There was no difference in the expression of MTs in the single layered tumour cells of benign and borderline serous tumours. Significantly higher numbers of MT-immunopositive cells were observed in both the single and the multilayered epithelial cells of serous carcinomas, the highest number being observed in the multiple layers of serous carcinomas. The positively stained malignant tumour cells in both single and multiple layers were larger than the negatively stained cells in benign, borderline, and malignant serous ovarian tumours. There was moderate to intense staining. These findings indicate that there is increased expression of MTs in the progression of malignancy, which could be used as a marker in grading the three groups of ovarian serous tumours and for determining prognosis.
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