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Original Research

Open Access

Classical HLA class I antigen downregulation and abnormal HLA-G expression in ovarian cancer

  • Min Jong Song1
  • Suk Il Jang2
  • Hyon Jee Yoon1
  • Eun Young Ki3
  • Joon Mo Lee2
  • Soo Young Hur2,*,

1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Yeouido St. Mary's Hospital, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, 07345 Seoul, Korea

2Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Seoul St. Mary's Hospital, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, 06591 Seoul, Korea

3Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Daejeon St. Mary's Hospital, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, 34943 Daejeon, Korea

DOI: 10.31083/j.ejgo.2021.01.5423 Vol.42,Issue 1,February 2021 pp.129-138

Submitted: 31 October 2019 Accepted: 15 September 2020

Published: 15 February 2021

*Corresponding Author(s): Soo Young Hur E-mail:;


Objective: To elucidate the potential role of HLA-G and classical HLA class I molecules in ovarian cancer, we researched their patterns of expression in benign and malignant ovarian tumors. Methods: In 10 benign and 33 malignant ovarian tumor tissues, HLA-G expression was determined both at the mRNA level by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction and immunohistochemical staining. The expression of classical HLA class I heavy chains were determined immunohistochemically. Results: Immunohistochemical analysis revealed the expression of HLA-G molecules in 27 of the 33 (81.8%) ovarian cancers but in none of the benign ovarian tumors. Classical HLA class I antigen expression was down-regulated in 25 out of the 33 (75.8%) ovarian cancers and in only 1 of the 10 benign ovarian tumors. HLA-G expression and classical HLA class I antigen down-regulation were related to disease stage (Spearman’s rho = 0.468, P = 0.001; Spearman’s rho = -0.392, P = 0.005). Conclusion: Our results reveal that abnormal expression of HLA-G and down-regulation of classical HLA class I antigen in ovarian cancer may be one of the mechanisms by which cancer cells may escape host’s immune system.


Ovarian cancer; Immune escape; Human leukocyte antigen class I molecule; Human leukocyte antigen-G

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Min Jong Song,Suk Il Jang,Hyon Jee Yoon,Eun Young Ki,Joon Mo Lee,Soo Young Hur. Classical HLA class I antigen downregulation and abnormal HLA-G expression in ovarian cancer. European Journal of Gynaecological Oncology. 2021. 42(1);129-138.


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