Clinical impact of soluble Neuropilin-1 in ovarian cancer patients and its association with its circulating ligands of the HGF/c-MET axis

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Background: Neuropilin (NRP) is a transmembrane protein, which has been shown to be a pro-angiogenic mediator and implicated as a potential driver of cancer progression. NRP-1 up-regulation in ovarian cancer tissue predicts poor prognosis. However, the clinical relevance of the soluble form of NRP-1 (sNRP-1) as a circulating biomarker in ovarian cancer patients is unknown. Methods/patients cohort: sNRP-1 levels were quantified in a cohort of 88 clinically documented ovarian cancer patients by a commercially available sNRP-1 enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) kit (Biomedica, Vienna, Austria). Patients (81.8% with FIGOIII/IV) received primary cytoreductive surgery with the aim of macroscopic complete resection (achieved in 55.7% of patients) and the recommendation of adjuvant chemotherapy in line with national guidelines. Results: Higher levels of sNRP-1 reflected more advanced disease (FIGO III/IV) and indicated a trend towards suboptimal surgical outcome, i.e. any residual tumor. sNRP-1 was neither related to the patients’ age nor the BRCA1/2 mutational status. Patients with higher sNRP-1 levels at primary diagnosis had a significantly reduced progression-free survival (PFS) (HR = 0.541, 95%CI: 0.304 - 0.963; p = 0.037) and overall survival (OS) (HR = 0.459, 95%CI: 0.225 - 0.936; p = 0.032). Principal component analysis showed that sNRP-1 levels were unrelated to the circulating hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and the soluble ectodomain of its receptor the tyrosine kinase mesenchymal–epithelial transition (c-MET), suggesting that there is no proportional serological concentration gradient of soluble components of the NRP-1/HGF/c-MET signaling axis. Conclusions: In line with the previously shown tissue-based prognostic role, we demonstrated for the first time that sNRP-1 can also act as a readily accessible, prognostic biomarker in the circulation of patients with ovarian cancer at primary diagnosis. Given its known role in angiogenesis and conferring resistance to the poly ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP) inhibitor olaparib in vitro, our results encourage more detailed investigation into sNRP-1 as a potential predictive biomarker for bevacizumab and/or PARP-inhibitor treatment.


Original languageEnglish
Article number974885
JournalFrontiers in oncology
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2022

External IDs

ORCID /0000-0002-8691-8423/work/142236078


Sustainable Development Goals

ASJC Scopus subject areas


  • blood-based biomarker, c-MET, HGF, ovarian cancer, prognosis, retrospective analysis, soluble neuropilin-1

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