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J Pathol. 2002 Oct;198(2):237-44.

Amplification of the androgen receptor gene in bone metastases from hormone-refractory prostate cancer.

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The Prostate Cancer Research Centre, Third Floor, Charles Bell House, 67 Riding House Street, London W1W 7EY, UK.


The aim of this study was to examine the prevalence of androgen receptor (AR) amplification in metastases to bone and other sites in patients with hormone-refractory prostate cancer (HRPC) and to compare these findings with those in pretreatment primary tumour samples from the same patients. Tissue from 24 patients with HRPC was available for study, together with 13 primary tumour specimens. AR gene amplification and copy number for X-chromosome were assessed by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) using a SpectrumOrange-labelled probe at locus Xq11-13 for the AR gene and a SpectrumGreen-labelled alpha-satellite probe for the X-chromosome (Vysis, UK, Ltd.). A minimum of 20 nuclei were scored in each of three tumour areas by two independent observers. Samples from 18/24 patients with HRPC (12 bone marrow biopsies, three local tumour recurrences, and three lymph nodes) and nine primary tumour specimens were adequate for FISH analysis. Results were expressed as a mean ratio of AR gene copy number : mean X-chromosome number, with a ratio of greater than 1.5 defined as amplification. AR gene amplification was seen in 9/18 (50%) cases of HRPC and in none of the primary (untreated) tumour specimens (p = 0.0048, Fisher's exact test). For the 12 bone marrow samples, AR gene amplification occurred in 5/12 (38%) cases. Elevated copy number for chromosome X occurred in 3/18 (17%) HRPC and 4/9 (44%) matched primary tumours. This study shows for the first time that AR gene amplification can be demonstrated by FISH in bone metastases from HRPC patients. Because bone marrow biopsies can be obtained from most patients with HRPC, the findings provide a rational basis for the routine selection of patients who may respond more favourably to second-line anti-androgen therapy.

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