Background: Much attention has been recently focused on the role of cancer stem cells (CSCs) in the initiation and progression of solid malignancies. Since CSCs are able to proliferate and self-renew extensively, thus sustaining tumor growth, the identification of CSCs through their antigenic profile might have relevant clinical implications. In this context, CD133 antigen has proved to be a marker of tumor cells with stemness features in several human malignancies. The aim of the study was to investigate the clinical role of the immunohistochemically assessed expression of CD133 in a large single Institution series of ovarian cancer patients. Methods: The study included 160 cases admitted to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit, Catholic University of Campobasso and Rome. CD133 antigen was identified by the monoclonal mouse anti-CD133-1 antibody (clone CD133 Miltenyi biotec). Results: In the overall series CD133 positive tumor cells were observed in 50/160 (31.2%) cases. A diffuse cytoplasmic pattern was identified in 30/50 (60.0%), while an apical cytoplasmic pattern was found in 20/50 (40.0%) of CD133 positive tumors. As of September 2008, the median follow up was 37 months (range: 2-112). During the follow up period, progression and death of disease were observed in 123 (76.9%), and 88 (55.0%) cases, respectively. There was no difference in TTP between cases with negative (median TTP = 23 months) versus positive CD133 expression (median TTP = 24 months) (p value = 0.3). Similar results were obtained for OS. When considering the TTP and OS curves according to the pattern of CD133 expression, a trend to a worse prognosis for cases with diffuse cytoplasmic versus the apical cytoplasmic pattern was documented, although the statistical significance was not reached. Conclusion: The immunohistochemical assessment of CD133 expression seems not to provide additional prognostic information in ovarian cancer patients. The role of the different pattern of CD133 immunoreaction deserves further investigation in a larger series. © 2009 Ferrandina et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
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