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Minerva Endocrinologica 2002 September;27(3):157-66

language: English

Kallikreins, steroid hormones and ovarian cancer: is there a link?

Yousef G. M., Diamandis E. P.


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Kallikreins are a subgroup of serine proteases with diverse physiological functions. The human kallikrein gene family has now been fully characterized and includes 15 members tandemly located on chromosome 19q13.4. Strong experimental evidence supports a link between kallikreins and endocrine malignancies and especially, ovarian cancer. Three new kallikreins have been shown to be potential diagnostic and prognostic markers for ovarian cancer. Many other kallikreins are also differentially expressed in ovarian cancer, and preliminary reports underline their possible prognostic value. The mechanism by which kallikreins could be involved in ovarian cancer pathology is not known. A likely link could be their regulation through the steroid hormone receptor pathway. Most kallikreins are under sex steroid hormonal regulation in cancer cell lines. Given the co-expression of many kallikreins in ovarian cancer, it is reasonable to postulate that kallikreins are involved in a cascade enzymatic pathway that plays a role in cancer progression. A multiparametric kallikrein expression profile may be a useful tool for ovarian cancer diagnosis/prognosis when used either alone or in conjunction with existing markers.

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