Research into the role and frequency of the male sex androgen (hormone) receptor in three diseases involving the prostate — abnormal cell growth, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), and cancer — found the receptor was differently expressed in BPH and malignancies, and might constitute a biomarker for cancer.
The study, “Role of androgen receptor in prostatic neoplasia versus hyperplasia,” was published in the Journal of Cancer Research and Therapeutics.
Androgens, particularly testosterone and 5-alpha-dihydrotesterone (DTH), are fundamental for the growth and maintenance of prostate tissue. Their effect is exerted through the androgen receptors (ARs), which mainly regulate gene expression.
Researchers sought to evaluate and compare AR expression in tissue samples from people with prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (or PIN, a benign condition of abnormal epithelial cells in the prostate that can progress to cancer), BPH, and prostatic adenocarcinoma. A total of 25 cases — 10 of adenocarcinoma, 10 of BPH, and five of PIN — were included. The samples were evaluated through specific AR immunostaining to correlate the intensity of staining to the presence and activity of the receptors.
All 25 patients, whose mean age was 65.5, had urinary symptoms. Weight and appetite loss, hematuria (presence of blood in urine), and backache were also present in patients with either adenocarcinoma or PIN. The immunostaining was present in all collected tissues, with different degrees of intensity. Importantly, staining was more intense in the cases of adenocarcinoma and PIN, compared to BPH. The difference between these two groups, however, was not statistically significant, possibly because of the study’s small size. The intensity of AR staining was high in well-differentiated tumors and low in moderately-to-poorly differentiated tumors, a finding in agreement with other studies.
The researchers highlight that a high AR content might be a good prognostic marker in prostate cancers, as it indicates that these tumors will likely respond to androgen withdrawal, a common treatment for prostate cancer.
BPH is often accompanied by lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) and urinary retention, and prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men in the United States.