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Lab Invest. 2001 Jun;81(6):815-26.

Increased expression of FGF-8 isoforms and FGF receptors in human premalignant prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia lesions and prostate cancer.

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Department of Anatomy and MediCity Research Laboratory, Tampere University Hospital, Tampere, Finland.


Fibroblast growth factor 8 (FGF-8) is implicated in growth of prostate cancer. Alternative splicing of the human FGF-8 gene potentially allows coding for four protein isoforms (a, b, e, and f). These isoforms differ in their binding to FGF receptors (FGFR) and in their mitogenic and transforming capacity in transfection assays. Here, we used RT-PCR and immunohistochemistry to study the expression of FGF-8 and FGFR isoforms in human prostate cancer (n = 31). Nonmalignant prostate specimens from cystoprostatectomies (n = 24) were examined as controls. Most prostate cancer samples and some control prostates also contained prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN) lesions. FGF-8a and e were expressed at significantly higher frequencies in prostate cancer (FGF-8a, 55%; FGF-8e, 45%) than in control samples (FGF-8a, 17%, p = 0.0052; FGF-8e, 8%, p = 0.0031). On the contrary, FGF-8b was found at an equal frequency in prostate cancer (55%) and in control prostates (50%). Furthermore, a combination of two or three FGF-8 isoforms (a, b, and/or e) was also expressed at a higher frequency in prostate cancer than in control samples (45% and 8%, respectively, p = 0.0031). Immunohistochemistry with an antibody recognizing all FGF-8 isoforms was more strongly immunoreactive in prostate cancer cells and PIN lesions than in normal-type epithelium. The receptor splicing variants FGFR1IIIc and FGFR2IIIc, which are activated by FGF-8, were found both in prostate cancer and control samples. Interestingly, immunoreactivity for FGFR1 and FGFR2 was much stronger in prostate cancer cells and PIN than in normal epithelium. These results demonstrate, for the first time, that FGF-8 isoforms and their receptors FGFR1IIIc and FGFR2IIIc are expressed at an increased level not only in prostate cancer but also in premalignant PIN lesions. These data suggest that FGF-8 may have an important autocrine role in the development of human prostate cancer. In addition to FGF-8b, the FGF-8 isoforms a and e may be involved in this process.

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