Folate receptor-beta has limited value for fluorescent imaging in ovarian, breast and colorectal cancer

Esther De Boer, Lucia M.A. Crane, Marleen Van Oosten, Bert Van Der Vegt, Tineke Van Der Sluis, Paulien Kooijman, Philip S. Low, Ate G.J. Van Der Zee, Henriette J.G. Arts, Gooitzen M. Van Dam, Joost Bart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Aims Tumor-specific targeted imaging is rapidly evolving in cancer diagnosis. The folate receptor alpha (FR-α) has already been identified as a suitable target for cancer therapy and imaging. FR-α is present on ∼40% of human cancers. FR-β is known to be expressed on several hematologic malignancies and on activated macrophages, but little is known about FR-β expression in solid tumors. Additional or simultaneous expression of FR-β could help extend the indications for folate-based drugs and imaging agents. In this study, the expression pattern of FR-β is evaluated in ovarian, breast and colorectal cancer. Methods FR-β expression was analyzed by semi-quantitative scoring of immunohistochemical staining on tissue microarrays (TMAs) of 339 ovarian cancer patients, 418 breast cancer patients, on 20 slides of colorectal cancer samples and on 25 samples of diverticulitis. Results FR-β expression was seen in 21% of ovarian cancer samples, 9% of breast cancer samples, and 55% of colorectal cancer samples. Expression was weak or moderate. Of the diverticulitis samples, 80% were positive for FR-β expression in macrophages. FR-β status neither correlated to known disease-related variables, nor showed association with overallsurvival and progression free survival in ovarian and breast cancer. In breast cancer, negative axillary status was significantly correlated to FR-β expression (p=0.022). Conclusions FR-β expression was low or absent in the majority of ovarian, breast and colorectal tumor samples. From the present study we conclude that the low FR-β expression in ovarian and breast tumor tissue indicates limited practical use of this receptor in diagnostic imaging and therapeutic purposes. Due to weak expression, FR-β is not regarded as a suitable target in colorectal cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number135012
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 6 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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