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Clin Cancer Res. 2002 Apr;8(4):1168-71.

Immunohistochemical demonstration of phospho-Akt in high Gleason grade prostate cancer.

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Department of Surgery, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, Texas 78229, USA.



Whereas the early stage of prostate cancer is marked by excessive proliferation, in advanced stages of the disease, a decreased apoptotic death rate (increased cell survival) also contributes to net tumor growth. Altered regulation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)-regulated cell proliferation and Akt-regulated cell survival pathways are suspected causes. In this study, we wanted to determine: (a) whether the degree of Akt activation can be assessed by immunohistochemical staining of paraffin- embedded human prostate cancer biopsies with an antibody to phospho-Akt (Ser473); and (b) whether phospho-MAPK/Erk1/2 and phospho-Akt expression are altered in prostate cancer.


To examine the activation status of MAPK/Erk1/2 and Akt, archival paraffin-embedded sections from 74 cases of resected prostate cancer were immunostained with antibodies to phospho-MAPK/Erk1/2 (Thr202/ Tyr204) and phospho-Akt (Ser473).


The staining intensity for phospho-Akt was significantly greater in Gleason grades 8-10 (92% of such cases staining strongly) compared with prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia and all other grades of prostate cancer (only 10% of these cases staining strongly; P < or = 0.001). The staining intensity for phospho-MAPK/Erk, on the other hand, was significantly greater for normal, hyperplastic, and prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia lesions but declined with disease progression, reaching its lowest level of expression in high Gleason grades 8-10 (P < 0.0001).


The activation state of the cell survival protein Akt can be analyzed in human prostate cancer by immunohistochemical staining of paraffin-embedded tissue with a phospho-specific Akt (Ser473) antibody. Advanced disease is accompanied by activation of Akt and inactivation of Erk.

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