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USC researchers find evidence that progesterone signaling influences ovarian cancer risk

Los Angeles, CA, Jan. 4, 2005- A woman's risk of ovarian cancer rises significantly if she carries either of two previously unexamined variations in the gene that codes for the progesterone receptor, according to a team of researchers led by scientists from the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California.

The study, which is being published in the January 5th issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, was initially supposed to be a more in-depth look at one particular version-or allele-of the progesterone receptor gene (PGR). The PROGINS allele, says Celeste Leigh Pearce, a preventive medicine researcher from the USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and the paper's first author, had previously been linked to a higher ovarian cancer risk as well as a lower breast cancer risk in women who carry it.

To see if the PROGINS allele did indeed confer a higher ovarian cancer risk on women, the researchers-led by the study's principal investigator, USC preventive medicine professor Malcolm Pike-first used biological samples collected by the Hawaii/Los Angeles Multiethnic Cohort Study. (The Multiethnic Cohort is one of the largest ongoing population studies in the world, and is led by Brian E. Henderson, M.D., the Kenneth T. Norris Jr. Chair in Cancer Prevention and dean of the Keck School of Medicine.) The scientists examined the variety of genetic variations found in the PGR gene as part of a long-term collaboration between USC researchers and those at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, MA, looking to ascertain if the PROGINS allele held a particular risk of ovarian cancer for women.

The results, Pearce notes, showed that it likely does. But at the same time, they noticed something even more interesting. The data they collected showed that the biggest influence on ovarian cancer risk from that region of the gene came not from the single PROGINS allele, but rather from two haplotypes found in the same region, o
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Contact: Jon Weiner
jon.weiner@usc.edu
323-442-2830
University of Southern California
4-Jan-2005


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