Emerging role of the endothelin axis in ovarian tumor progression

Anna Bagnato, Francesca Spinella, Laura Rosanò

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of gynecologic cancer-related deaths. The endothelin (ET) axis, which includes ET-1, ET-2, ET-3, and the ET receptors, ETAR and ETBR, represents a novel target in tumor treatment. ET-1 may directly contribute to tumor growth and indirectly modulate tumor-host interactions in various tumors such as prostatic, ovarian, renal, pulmonary, colorectal, cervical, breast carcinoma, Kaposi's sarcoma, brain tumors and melanoma. Extensive experimental evidence links ETAR overexpression with tumor progression in ovarian cancer. ETAR engagement can in fact activate multiple signal transduction pathways including protein kinase C, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, mitogen-activated protein kinase and transactivate epidermal growth factor receptor, which play a role in ovarian tumor growth and invasion. The effects of ETAR signaling are wide ranging and involve both cancer cells and their surrounding stroma, including the vasculature. Upon being activated, the ETAR mediates multiple tumor-promoting activities, including enhanced cell proliferation, escape from apoptosis, angiogenesis, epithelial-mesenchymal transition and increased motility and invasiveness. These findings indicate that activation of ETAR by ET-1 is a key mechanism in the cellular signaling network promoting ovarian cancer growth and progression. The predominant role played by ETAR in cancer has led to the development of small molecules that antagonize the binding of ET-1 to ETAR. The emerging preclinical data presented here provide a rationale for the clinical evaluation of these molecules in which targeting the related signaling cascade via ETAR blockade may be advantageous in the treatment of advanced stage ovarian carcinoma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)761-772
Number of pages12
JournalEndocrine-Related Cancer
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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