Human cytomegalovirus infection induces high expression of prolactin and prolactin receptors in ovarian cancer

Afsar Rahbar*, Amira Alkharusi, Helena Costa, Mattia Russel Pantalone, Ourania N. Kostopoulou, Huanhuan L. Cui, Joseph Carlsson, Angelique Flöter Rådestad, Cecilia Söderberg‐naucler, Gunnar Norstedt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


One of the potential biomarkers for ovarian cancer patients is high serum level of prolactin (PRL), which is a growth factor that may promote tumor cell growth. The prolactin receptor (PRLR) and human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) proteins are frequently detected in ovarian tumor tissue specimens, but the potential impact of HCMV infection on the PRL system have so far not been investigated. In this study, HCMV’s effects on PRL and PRLR expression were assessed in infected ovarian cancer cells (SKOV3) by PCR and Western blot techniques. The levels of both PRL and PRLR transcripts as well as the corresponding proteins were highly increased in HCMV‐infected SKOV3 cells. Tissue specimens obtained from 10 patients with ovarian cancer demonstrated high expression of PRLR, HCMV‐IE, and pp65 proteins. Extensive expression of PRLR was detected in all examined ovarian tumor tissue specimens except for one from a patient who had focal expression of PRLR and this patient was HCMV‐negative in her tumor. In conclusion, PRL and PRLR were induced to high levels in HCMV‐infected ovarian cancer cells and PRLR expression was extensively detected in HCMV‐infected ovarian tissue specimens. Highly induced PRL and PRLR by HCMV infection may be of relevance for the oncomodulatory role of this virus in ovarian cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Article number44
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • HCMV
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Prolactin
  • Prolactin receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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