Metastatic dissemination of epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) predominantly occurs through direct cell shedding from the primary tumor into the intra-abdominal cavity that is filled with malignant ascitic effusions. Facilitated by the fluid flow, cells distribute throughout the cavity, broadly seed and invade through peritoneal lining, and resume secondary tumor growth in abdominal and pelvic organs. At all steps of this unique metastatic process, cancer cells exist within a multidimensional tumor microenvironment consisting of intraperitoneally residing cancer-reprogramed fibroblasts, adipose, immune, mesenchymal stem, mesothelial, and vascular cells that exert miscellaneous bioactive molecules into malignant ascites and contribute to EOC progression and metastasis via distinct molecular mechanisms and epigenetic dysregulation. This review outlines basic epigenetic mechanisms, including DNA methylation, histone modifications, chromatin remodeling, and non-coding RNA regulators, and summarizes current knowledge on reciprocal interactions between each participant of the EOC cellular milieu and tumor cells in the context of aberrant epigenetic crosstalk. Promising research directions and potential therapeutic strategies that may encompass epigenetic tailoring as a component of complex EOC treatment are discussed.
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