Elevated serum concentrations of CA-125 in patients with advanced endometriosis

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CA-125 is a high-molecular-weight glycoprotein that is expressed on the cell surface of some derivatives of embryonic coelomic epithelium. Based on results of an immunoradiometric assay developed to detect CA-125 in peripheral blood, 82% of patients with ovarian cancer and <1% of apparently healthy controls have elevated peripheral blood levels of CA-125. Because endometriotic lesions are likely to be derivatives of embryonic coelomic epithelium, the authors investigated serum CA-125 levels in patients with endometriosis. Preoperative serum CA-125 concentrations were measured in 147 patients undergoing diagnostic laparoscopy or laparotomy. Serum CA-125 concentrations were elevated in patients with stage III or IV endometriosis, compared with controls with negative diagnostic laparoscopies (66.5 ± 14.5 verses 820 ± 0.59 U/ml, mean ± standard error of the mean; P<0.001). Fifty-four percent of patients with stage III or IV endometriosis and 0% of the controls had CA-125 levels >35 U/ml. Occasional patients with stage II endometriosis (13%), leiomyomata uteri (14%), and chornic pelvic inflammatory disease (5%) also had serum CA-125 concentrations >35 U/ml. Immunocytochemical techniques demonstrated the presence of CA-125 on the cell surface of endometriotic lesions.




Barbieri, R. L., Niloff, J. M., Bast, R. C., Scaetzl, E., Kistner, R. W., & Knapp, R. C. (1986). Elevated serum concentrations of CA-125 in patients with advanced endometriosis. Fertility and Sterility, 45(5), 630–634. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0015-0282(16)49333-7

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