High-grade serous carcinoma (HGSC) is the most lethal gynecological malignancy in the United States. Late diagnosis and the emergence of chemoresistance have prompted studies into how the tumor microenvironment, and more recently tumor innervation, may be leveraged for HGSC prevention and interception. In addition to stess-induced sources, concentrations of the sympathetic neurotransmitter norepinephrine (NE) in the ovary increase during ovulation and after menopause. Importantly, NE exacerbates advanced HGSC progression. However, little is known about the role of NE in early disease pathogenesis. Here, we investigated the role of NE in instigating anchorage independence and micrometastasis of preneoplastic lesions from the fallopian tube epithelium (FTE) to the ovary, an essential step in HGSC onset. We found that in the presence of NE, FTE cell lines were able to survive in ultra-low-attachment (ULA) culture in a β-adrenergic receptor–dependent (β-AR–dependent) manner. Importantly, spheroid formation and cell viability conferred by treatment with physiological sources of NE were abrogated using the β-AR blocker propranolol. We have also identified that NE-mediated anoikis resistance may be attributable to downregulation of colony-stimulating factor 2. These findings provide mechanistic insight and identify targets that may be regulated by ovary-derived NE in early HGSC.


Hunter D. Reavis, Stefan M. Gysler, Grace B. McKenney, Matthew Knarr, Hannah J. Lusk, Priyanka Rawat, Hannah S. Rendulich, Marilyn A. Mitchell, Dara S. Berger, Jamie S. Moon, Suyeon Ryu, Monica Mainigi, Marcin P. Iwanicki, Dave S. Hoon, Laura M. Sanchez, Ronny Drapkin


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