Introduction/Background Telomeres are DNA structures protecting the linear ends of eukaryotic chromosomes against degradation and fusion, thereby maintaining genome stability. Telomerase is an enzyme that stabilizes the length of linear chromosomes by de novo synthesizing telomeric repeats during incomplete DNA replication, thus ensuring immortalization. This enzyme is expressed in 80% of cancers, including ovarian carcinoma. The human telomerase reverse transcriptase has been investigated as a detection marker for cancers in early stages, and a prognosis marker in late stages disease. The aim of this study is to investigate telomere length as a marker for survival and recurrence in ovarian carcinoma.
Methodology 37 ovarian cancer biopsies have been isolated from Lebanese patients. The biopsies were subjected to DNA extraction, and then telomere length was assayed in cancer cells following the method elaborated by R. Cawthon (2002). Clinical data of each patient have been retrieved, including survival, recurrence, lymph node ratio, age, weight.
Results The results obtained revealed a direct relation between telomere length and survival. In fact, patients with shorter survival rates (less than 1 year) exhibited 30% longer telomeres compared with patients with longer survival rates (3 to 5 years). Moreover, recurrence rates increased with longer telomeres. Higher ratios (35%) were detected in patients with early recurrence (less than 1 year) compared to patients with late or absent recurrence. However, no direct effect between telomere length and the other parameters was spotted.
Conclusion Telomere length could be used as a prognostic marker in patients with ovarian cancer by predicting better survival and lower recurrence in case of shorter telomeres. This will be of a great value when making therapeutic decisions in a heterogeneous and aggressive disease as ovarian cancer.
Disclosure Nothing to disclose.
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