The E-cadherin repressor Snail is associated with lower overall survival of ovarian cancer patients.
Epithelial ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death among female genital malignancies. Reduced expression of the cell adhesion molecule E-cadherin was previously shown to be associated with adverse prognostic features. The role of the E-cadherin repressor Snail in ovarian cancer progression remains to be elucidated. We analysed formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded specimens of 48 primary ovarian tumours and corresponding metastases for expression of E-cadherin and Snail by immunohistochemistry. We found a significant correlation between E-cadherin expression in primary cancers and their corresponding metastases (P<0.001). This correlation was found for Snail expression as well (P<0.001). There was a significant (P=0.008) association of reduced E-cadherin expression in primary ovarian cancer with shorter overall survival. Similarly, Snail expression in corresponding metastases (P=0.047) was associated with reduced overall survival of the patients. Additionally, the group of patients showing reduced E-cadherin and increased Snail immunoreactivity in primary tumours and corresponding metastases, respectively, had a significantly higher risk of death (P=0.002 and 0.022, respectively) when compared to the patient group with the reference expression profile E-cadherin positive and Snail negative. Taken together, the results of our study show that the E-cadherin repressor Snail is associated with lower overall survival of ovarian cancer patients.