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Yu-Fang Huang, Wen-Fang Cheng, Yu-Peng Wu, Ya-Min Cheng, Keng-Fu Hsu and Cheng-Yang Chou

Aggressive epithelial ovarian cancers (EOCs) frequently progress and become fatal, even when cytoreduction surgery plus platinum-based chemotherapy are performed. Thus, the early detection of high-risk subgroups is important in order to provide opportunities for better treatment outcomes, using alternative therapeutic strategies. This study aimed to explore the expression of circulating IGF system components and their relationship with treatment outcome in EOC. We included 228 patients with a median follow-up time of 44 months at two tertiary centers. There were 68 cancer deaths and 108 cases of cancer progression in the cohort. Preoperative serum levels of total IGF1, IGF2, IGF-binding protein 2 (IGFBP2), and IGFBP3 were analyzed using an ELISA and were then converted into an IGF1:IGFBP3 molar ratio. The risks of mortality and progression were estimated using Cox regression models in univariate and multivariate analyses. Our results showed that high IGF1, IGF2, and IGFBP3 levels were significantly associated with an early cancer stage, non-serous histology, and optimal cytoreduction. High IGFBP2 levels were associated with an advanced stage and serous histology. Overall and progression-free survival durations were significantly better among patients with high IGF1 (P=0.003 and P=0.001), IGF2 (P=0.003 and P=0.02), or IGFBP3 levels (P=0.02 and P=0.008). In multivariate analysis, serum IGFBP2 levels were significantly associated with increased risk of mortality (hazard ratio=1.84, 95% CI: 1.07–3.18, P=0.03), indicating that IGFBP2 could be used as an early predictor of EOC-related mortality. The combination of elevated IGFBP2 and reduced IGF1 levels at diagnosis could further facilitate the identification of a patient subgroup with the worst prognosis.

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Han-Wei Lin, Ying-Cheng Chiang, Nai-Yun Sun, Yu-Li Chen, Chi-Fang Chang, Yi-Jou Tai, Chi-An Chen and Wen-Fang Cheng

The role of chitinase-3-like protein 1 (CHI3L1) in ovarian cancer and the possible mechanisms were elucidated. CHI3L1 is a secreted glycoprotein and associated with inflammation, fibrosis, asthma, extracellular tissue remodeling and solid tumors. Our previous study showed CHI3L1 could be a potential prognostic biomarker for epithelial ovarian cancer and could protect cancer cells from apoptosis. Therefore, clinical data and quantitation of CHI3L1 of ovarian cancer patients, tumor spheroid formation, side-population assays, Aldefluor and apoptotic assays, ELISA, RT-PCR, immunoblotting and animal experiments were performed in two ovarian cancer cells lines, OVCAR3 and CA5171, and their CHI3L1-overexpressing and -knockdown transfectants. High expression of CHI3L1 was associated with poor outcome and chemoresistance in ovarian cancer patients. The mRNA expression of CHI3L1 in CA5171 ovarian cancer stem-like cells was 3-fold higher than in CA5171 parental cells. CHI3L1 promoted the properties of ovarian cancer stem-like cells including generating more and larger tumor spheroids and a higher percentage of ALDH+ in tumor cells and promoting resistance to cytotoxic drug-induced apoptosis. CHI3L1 could induce both the Akt (essential) and Erk signaling pathways, and then enhance expression of β-catenin followed by SOX2, and finally promote tumor spheroid formation and other properties of ovarian cancer stem-like cells. OVCAR3 CHI3L1-overexpressing transfectants were more tumorigenic in vivo, whereas CA5171 CHI3L1-knockdown transfectants were not tumorigenic in vivo. CHI3L1 critically enhances the properties of ovarian cancer stem-like cells. CHI3L1 or CHI3L1-regulated signaling pathways and molecules could be potential therapeutic targets in ovarian cancer.

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Yu-Li Chen, Cheng-Yang Chou, Ming-Cheng Chang, Han-Wei Lin, Ching-Ting Huang, Shu-Feng Hsieh, Chi-An Chen and Wen-Fang Cheng

Aside from tumor cells, ovarian cancer-related ascites contains the immune components. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether a combination of clinical and immunological parameters can predict survival in patients with ovarian cancer. Ascites specimens and medical records from 144 ovarian cancer patients at our hospital were used as the derivation group to select target clinical and immunological factors to generate a risk-scoring system to predict patient survival. Eighty-two cases from another hospital were used as the validation group to evaluate this system. The surgical status and expression levels of interleukin 17a (IL17a) and IL21 in ascites were selected for the risk-scoring system in the derivation group. The areas under the receiver operating characteristic (AUROC) curves of the overall score for disease-free survival (DFS) of the ovarian cancer patients were 0.84 in the derivation group, 0.85 in the validation group, and 0.84 for all the patients. The AUROC curves of the overall score for overall survival (OS) of cases were 0.78 in the derivation group, 0.76 in the validation group, and 0.76 for all the studied patients. Good correlations between overall risk score and survival of the ovarian cancer patients were demonstrated by sub-grouping all participants into four groups (P for trend <0.001 for DFS and OS). Therefore, acombination of clinical and immunological parameters can provide a practical scoring system to predict the survival of patients with ovarian carcinoma. IL17a and IL21 can potentially be used as prognostic and therapeutic biomarkers.

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Ying-Cheng Chiang, Ming-Cheng Chang, Pao-Jen Chen, Meei-Maan Wu, Chang-Yao Hsieh, Wen-Fang Cheng and Chi-An Chen

Epithelial ovarian carcinoma is usually present at the advanced stage, during which the patients generally have poor prognosis. Our study aimed to evaluate the correlation of gene methylation and the clinical outcome of patients with advanced-stage, high-grade ovarian serous carcinoma. The methylation status of eight candidate genes was first evaluated by methylation-specific PCR and capillary electrophoresis to select three potential genes including DAPK, CDH1, and B LU (ZMYND10) from the exercise group of 40 patients. The methylation status of these three genes was further investigated in the validation group consisting of 136 patients. Patients with methylated BLU had significantly shorter progression-free survival (PFS; hazard ratio (HR) 1.48, 95% CI 1.01–2.56, P=0.013) and overall survival (OS; HR 1.83, 95% CI 1.07–3.11, P=0.027) in the multivariate analysis. Methylation of BLU was also an independent risk factor for 58 patients undergoing optimal debulking surgery for PFS (HR 2.37, 95% CI 1.03–5.42, P=0.043) and OS (HR 3.96, 95% CI 1.45–10.81, P=0.007) in the multivariate analysis. A possible mechanism of BLU in chemoresistance was investigated in ovarian cancer cell lines by in vitro apoptotic assays. In vitro studies have shown that BLU could upregulate the expression of BAX and enhance the effect of paclitaxel-induced apoptosis in ovarian cancer cells. Our study suggested that methylation of BLU could be a potential prognostic biomarker for advanced ovarian serous carcinoma.