The acidic glycosphingolipid composition of human uterine endometrial adenocarcinoma was compared with those of normal uterine endometrium at the proliferative and the secretory phases. Upon chemical composition analysis, no significant transformation-associated change of these glycolipids was observed. However, when cancer cells from the patients with human uterine endometrical adenocarcinoma were transferred to culture, the composition of glycosphingolipids, particularly sulfoglycosphingolipids, was significantly altered after the 70th doubling time. I3SO3-GalCer, which was contained in the original tissues of uterine endometrial adenocarcinomas, disappeared completely from the cultured cells at the 70th doubling time, whereas II3SO3-LacCer and ganglio series sulfoglycosphingolipids, which were originally contained in a trace amount or not present at all in the cancer tissues, became the major components in the total acidic glycosphingolipids in the cultured cells. Also, among cell lines established from several gynecological cancers, which include uterine cervical squamous carcinoma, uterine endometrial adenocarcinoma, ovarian clear cell carcinoma, choriocarcinoma, uterine sarcoma, ovarian sarcoma, and vulvar melanoma, only those cells derived from uterine endometrial adenocarcinoma expressed II3SO3-LacCer and ganglio series sulfoglycosphingolipids and the synthetic activities of these sulfoglycolipids, indicating that uterine endometrial adenocarcinoma cells characteristically lose the sulfotransferase to GalCer and acquire the sulfotransferase to LacCer after being transferred to culture in vitro. Thus, the unique sulfoglycosphingolipids and sulfotransferase are useful markers for the characterization of uterine endometrial adenocarcinoma among human gynecological cancers.

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This work was supported in part by a grant from the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture of Japan and a grant from the Naito Foundation.

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