Open Access Research article

Mucin-1 and its relation to grade, stage and survival in ovarian carcinoma patients

Verena Engelstaedter1*, Sabine Heublein2, Anamur Lan Schumacher2, Miriam Lenhard3, Helen Engelstaedter4, Ulrich Andergassen2, Margit Guenthner-Biller2, Christina Kuhn2, Brigitte Rack2, Markus Kupka2, Doris Mayr5 and Udo Jeschke2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Cologne, Kerpener Straße 34, Cologne, 50931, Germany

2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Campus Innenstadt, Maistrasse 11, Munich, 80337, Germany

3 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Großhadern, Marchioninistrasse 15, Munich, 81377, Germany

4 Department of Anaesthesiology, Albert-Ludwigs University, Hugstetter Straße 55, Freiburg, 79106, Germany

5 Institute of Pathology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Thalkirchner Str. 36, Munich, 80337, Germany

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BMC Cancer 2012, 12:600  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-600

Published: 15 December 2012



Mucin-1 is known to be over-expressed by various human carcinomas and is shed into the circulation where it can be detected in patient’s serum by specific anti-Mucin-1 antibodies, such as the tumour marker assays CA 15–3 and CA 27.29. The prognostic value of Mucin-1 expression in ovarian carcinoma remains uncertain. One aim of this study was to compare the concentrations of Mucin-1 in a cohort of patients with either benign or malignant ovarian tumours detected by CA 15–3 and CA 27.29. Another aim of this study was to evaluate Mucin-1 expression by immunohistochemistry in a different cohort of ovarian carcinoma patients with respect to grade, stage and survival.


Patients diagnosed with and treated for ovarian tumours were included in the study. Patient characteristics, histology including histological subtype, tumour stage, grading and follow-up data were available from patient records. Serum Mucin-1 concentrations were measured with ELISA technology detecting CA 15–3 and CA 27.29, Mucin-1 tissue expression was determined by immunohistochemistry using the VU4H5 and VU3C6 anti-Mucin-1 antibodies. Statistical analysis was performed by using SPSS 18.0.


Serum samples of 118 patients with ovarian tumours were obtained to determine levels of Mucin-1. Median CA 15–3 and CA 27.29 concentrations were significantly higher in patients with malignant disease (p< 0.001) than in patients with benign disease.

Paraffin-embedded tissue of 154 patients with ovarian carcinoma was available to determine Mucin-1 expression. The majority of patients presented with advanced stage disease at primary diagnosis. Median follow-up time was 11.39 years. Immunohistochemistry results for VU4H5 showed significant differences with respect to tumour grade, FIGO stage and overall survival. Patients with negative expression had a mean overall survival of 9.33 years compared to 6.27 years for patients with positive Mucin-1 expression.


This study found significantly elevated Mucin-1 serum concentrations in ovarian carcinoma patients as compared to those women suffering from benign ovarian diseases. However, it needs to be noted that Mucin-1 concentrations in carcinoma patients showed a rather high variability. Results from immunohistochemistry indicate that Mucin-1 has a prognostic relevance in ovarian carcinomas when evaluating the expression by VU4H5 antibody.

Ovarian carcinoma; Mucin-1; CA 15–3 Antigen; CA 27.29 Antigen; Survival