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Prostate. 1995 Feb;26(2):87-93.

Cellular proliferation in prostatic adenocarcinoma as assessed by bromodeoxyuridine uptake and Ki-67 and PCNA expression.

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  • 1Department of Urology, University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco.


Prostatic carcinomas vary in their biological potential, even when stratified by grade and stage. Measurement of cellular proliferation by various methods has been shown to correlate with outcome for several human cancers, including prostatic carcinoma. Uptake of bromodeoxyuridine (BrdUrd), a thymidine analogue, has been accepted as a measure of cellular proliferative rate. However, the technique is somewhat complex, requiring incubation with fresh tissue. We compared cellular proliferation as measured by BrdUrd uptake with two more simple immunohistochemical methods in 44 prostatic adenocarcinoma specimens and correlated the results with standard clinical parameters. The tissue was obtained via needle biopsy, channel transurethral resection, and radical prostatectomy. Specimens were incubated in vitro with BrdUrd and then fixed and paraffin embedded. Sections were immunohistochemically stained with antibodies to BrdUrd, proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), and Ki-67. At least 1,000 cells were scored, and a labeling index (LI) was calculated (number of positive cells/total number of cells). The mean LI determined by all three indices was low (BrdUrd = 3.0, PCNA = 7.0, Ki-67 = 3.4), consistent with the knowledge that prostatic tumors grow slowly. In 36 patients who had not been treated at the time of analysis, the LI as determined by all three methods correlated well with clinical stage and pathological grade. Furthermore, the LIs discriminated between those with tumor confined to the prostate and those with extension to the seminal vesicles, lymph nodes, or bone (P = 0.003, 0.004, 0.008 for BrdUrd, PCNA, and Ki-67, respectively). The LIs for PCNA and Ki-67 correlated well with that for BrdUrd (r = 0.84; r = 0.85), while the LIs for Ki-67 and PCNA correlated slightly less well with each other (r = 0.78). PCNA and Ki-67 expression appear to reflect essentially the same biological process as BrdUrd uptake. Either can substitute for BrdUrd as a measure of cellular proliferation, and Ki-67 seems to offer the fewest technical problems.

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