Inhibition of autophagy in peripheral blood mononuclear cells by vaginal fluid from women with a malignant adnexal mass

Theofano Orfanelli, Georgios Doulaveris, Kevin Holcomb, Jiyeon M. Jeong, Giovanni Sisti, Tomi T. Kanninen, Thomas A. Caputo, Divya Gupta, Steven S. Witkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Inhibition of autophagy is a characteristic of ovarian cancer. We determined whether inhibition of autophagy by vaginal fluid could provide a non-invasive test for cancer risk stratification in women presenting with an adnexal mass. Vaginal fluid supernatants from 90 women undergoing evaluation for a suspicious adnexal mass were incubated with peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) obtained from healthy women under conditions that induce autophagy. Rapamycin, an autophagy inducer, was added to some cultures. After 48 hr the cells were collected, lysed and assayed by ELISA for intracellular p62 concentration. p62 is a cytoplasmic protein that is consumed during autophagy induction. Its concentration is inversely proportional to the extent of autophagy induction. Clinical information including pathological diagnoses was obtained after completion of laboratory studies. Mean p62 levels were 9.4 ng/ml in the 21 women with a subsequent malignant diagnosis, 4.5 ng/ml in the eight women with a borderline tumor diagnosis and 3.6 ng/ml in the 61 women with benign disease (p<0.0001, malignant vs. others). When rapamycin was added to the vaginal fluid-PBMC co-incubation, p62 levels in samples from women with a malignant diagnosis decreased to 3.3 ng/ml, a level comparable to what was observed with the nonmalignant samples. Vaginal fluid inhibition of autophagy can differentiate between women with malignant and benign adnexal masses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2879-2884
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 15 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • adnexal mass
  • autophagy
  • malignancy
  • p62
  • vaginal fluid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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