Neopterin, a pyrazinopyrimidine compound, is a marker of activation of cell-mediated immunity. The prognostic value of pretherapeutically and of serially measured urinary neopterin levels in patients with ovarian cancer was assessed, in a blinded manner, by analysis of 658 urine specimens from 74 women. The specimens were collected during a 5-year period (January 1981 to January 1986). Thirty-one deaths due to cancer were observed during the study period. By statistical analysis, a significant predictive value of pretherapeutic neopterin levels was found and compared with that of other possible prognostic clinical and laboratory findings. Multivariate analysis, using stratification by tumor stage, demonstrated that this predictive information was independent of other variables. A significant association was found between serial neopterin measurements and the current risk of death during follow-up (P < 0.0001). In addition, current death risk was correlated with neopterin levels measured 6 months previously (P = 0.026). The histological outcome at surgical reexamination was correlated with the current neopterin levels (P = 0.016). Further, normal neopterin levels in women with evidence of tumor at surgical reexamination were shown to be a sign of better prognosis than elevated levels. Measurement of urinary neopterin levels during follow-up of women with ovarian cancer appears to be a valuable adjunct to conventional techniques, particularly in patients refusing explorative surgery.

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Supported by the Austrian Research Funds “Zur Förderung der Wissenschaften,” Project P6036.

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