Purpose: Early prostate cancer antigen is a nuclear matrix protein that was recently shown to be expressed in prostate adenocarcinoma and adjacent benign tissue. Previous studies have demonstrated early prostate cancer antigen expression in benign prostate tissue up to 5 years before a diagnosis of prostate carcinoma, suggesting that early prostate cancer antigen could be used as a potential predictive marker. Materials and Methods: We evaluated early prostate cancer antigen expression by immunohistochemistry using a polyclonal antibody (Onconome Inc., Seattle, Washington) on benign biopsies from 98 patients. Biopsies were obtained from 4 groups that included 39 patients with first time negative biopsy (group 1), 24 patients with persistently negative biopsies (group 2), 8 patients with initially negative biopsies who were subsequently diagnosed with prostate carcinoma (group 3) and negative biopsies obtained from 27 cases where other concurrent biopsies contained prostate carcinoma (group 4). Early prostate cancer antigen staining was assessed by 2 of the authors who were blind to the group of the examined sections. Staining intensity (range 0 to 3) and extent (range 1 to 3) scores were assigned. The presence of intensity 3 staining in any of the blocks of a biopsy specimen was considered as positive for early prostate cancer antigen for the primary outcome in the statistical analysis. In addition, as secondary outcomes we evaluated the data using the proportion of blocks with intensity 3 early prostate cancer antigen staining, the mean of the product of staining intensity and staining extent of all blocks within a biopsy, and the mean of the product of intensity 3 staining and extent. Results: Primary outcome analysis revealed the proportion of early prostate cancer antigen positivity to be highest in group 3 (6 of 8, 75%) and lowest in group 2 (7 of 24, 29%, p = 0.04 for differences among groups). A relatively higher than expected proportion of early prostate cancer antigen positivity was present in group 1 (23 of 39, 59%). Early prostate cancer antigen was negative in 41% of group 4 who were known to harbor prostate carcinoma. The proportion of early prostate cancer antigen positivity was statistically significantly lower in group 2 than in each of the other groups when compared pairwise. A lower proportion of early prostate cancer antigen positivity was encountered in older archival tissue blocks (p <0.0001) pointing to a potential confounding factor. Corrected for block age, group 3 was the only group to remain statistically significantly different in early prostate cancer antigen positivity compared to the reference group 2. Similar findings were obtained when adjustments for patient age were made and when analysis was based on secondary outcome measurements. Conclusions: Our study showed a higher proportion of early prostate cancer antigen expression in initial negative prostate biopsy of patients who were diagnosed with prostate carcinoma on subsequent followup biopsies. We found a relatively high proportion of early prostate cancer antigen positivity (59%) in the group with first time negative biopsies and a potential 41% rate of false-negative early prostate cancer antigen staining in benign biopsies from cases with documented prostate carcinoma on concurrent cores. The lower early prostate cancer antigen positivity in cases with older blocks raises the question of a confounding effect of block age. Additional studies on the antigenic properties of early prostate cancer antigen in archival material are required to further delineate the usefulness of early prostate cancer antigen immunostaining on biopsy material.
- tumor markers
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