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Inflammation is a key contributor to ovarian cancer cell seeding.


The incidence of ovarian cancer dramatically increases in early menopause but the factors contributing to cancer onset are unclear. Most ovarian cancers originate in the fallopian tube with subsequent implantation of malignant cells into the ovary. However, the events and conditions that lead to cancer cell implantation are unknown. To quantify which conditions are conducive to the seeding of cancer cells in an immunocompetent mouse model, we surgically implanted mouse ovarian cancer cells into the oviducts of syngeneic mice and simulated conditions associated with ovulatory wound repair, incessant ovulation, ovarian surface scarring, and aging. We found that the dominant site of cancer cell seeding was not the ovary but the nearby surgical wound site, which was associated with a strong and persistent inflammatory reaction. Conditions in the ovary associated with inflammation, such as acute ovulatory wound repair, active healing of the scarred ovarian surface, and mouse aging, contributed to increased seeding of the cancer cells to the surgical wound site and tissues surrounding the ovary. Changes in the ovary not accompanied by inflammation, such as completed ovulatory cycles and fully-healed scars on the ovarian surface, did not contribute to increased cancer cell seeding. We conclude that inflammation is the most likely mechanism by which ovulation and postmenopausal events contribute to the increased risk of ovarian cancer.

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