Protein biomarkers in cervicovaginal lavages for detection of endometrial cancer

Paweł Łaniewski, Haiyan Cui, Nichole D. Mahnert, Jamal Mourad, Matthew P. Borst, Lyndsay Willmott, Dana M. Chase, Denise J. Roe, Melissa M. Herbst-Kralovetz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Rates of endometrial cancer (EC) are increasing. For a definitive diagnosis, women undergo various time-consuming and painful medical procedures, such as endometrial biopsy with or without hysteroscopy, and dilation and curettage, which may create a barrier to early detection and treatment, particularly for women with inadequate healthcare access. Thus, there is a need to develop robust EC diagnostics based on non- or minimally-invasive sampling. The objective of this study was to quantify a broad range of immuno-oncology proteins in cervicovaginal lavage (CVL) samples and investigate these proteins as predictive diagnostic biomarkers for EC. Methods: One hundred ninety-two women undergoing hysterectomy for benign or malignant indications were enrolled in this cross-sectional study. Classification of women to four disease groups: benign conditions (n = 108), endometrial hyperplasia (n = 18), low-grade endometrioid carcinoma (n = 53) and other EC subtypes (n = 13) was based on histopathology of biopsy samples collected after the surgery. CVL samples were collected in the operating room during the standard-of-care hysterectomy procedure. Concentrations of 72 proteins in CVL samples were evaluated using multiplex immunoassays. Global protein profiles were assessed using principal component and hierarchical clustering analyses. The relationships between protein levels and disease groups and disease severity were determined using Spearman correlation, univariate and multivariate receiver operating characteristics, and logistic regression analyses. Results: Women with EC and benign conditions exhibited distinctive cervicovaginal protein profiles. Several proteins in CVL samples (e.g., an immune checkpoint protein, TIM-3, growth factors, VEGF, TGF-α, and an anti-inflammatory cytokine, IL-10) discriminated EC from benign conditions, particularly, when tested in combinations with CA19–9, CA125, eotaxin, G-CSF, IL-6, MCP-1, MDC, MCP-3 and TRAIL (sensitivity of 86.1% and specificity of 87.9%). Furthermore, specific biomarkers (e.g., TIM-3, VEGF, TGF-α, TRAIL, MCP-3, IL-15, PD-L2, SCF) associated with histopathological tumor characteristics, including histological type and grade, tumor size, presence and depth of myometrial invasion or mismatch repair protein status, implying their potential utility for disease prognosis or monitoring therapies. Conclusions: This proof-of-principle study demonstrated that cervicovaginal sampling coupled with multiplex immunoassay technology can offer a minimally to non-invasive method for EC detection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number88
JournalBiomarker Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Cervicovaginal microenvironment
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Minimally to non-invasive diagnostic
  • Protein biomarker
  • Uterine cancer
  • Women’s health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


Dive into the research topics of 'Protein biomarkers in cervicovaginal lavages for detection of endometrial cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this