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Cancer Res. 1994 Dec 15;54(24):6306-10.

Sensitive nested reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction detection of circulating prostatic tumor cells: comparison of prostate-specific membrane antigen and prostate-specific antigen-based assays.

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Department of Surgery, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York 10021.


A highly sensitive nested reverse transcriptase-PCR assay, with primers derived from the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSM) cDNA sequences, has been used to detect occult hematogenous micrometastatic prostate cells. In 77 patients with prostate cancer, PSM and PSA primers detected circulating prostate cells in 48 (62.3%) and 7 (9.1%) patients, respectively. In treated stage D disease patients, PSM primers detected cells in 16 of 24 patients (66.7%), while PSA primers detected cells in 6 of 24 (25%). In post-radical prostectomy patients with negative serum PSA values, PSM primers detected metastases in 21 of 31 patients (67.7%), whereas PSA primers detected cells in only 1 of 33 (3.0%), indicating that micrometastatic spread may be a relatively early event in prostate cancer. The analysis of 40 individuals without known prostate cancer provides evidence that this assay is highly specific and suggests that PSM expression may predict the development of cancer in patients without clinically apparent prostate cancer. Using PSM primers, we detected micrometastases in 4 of 40 controls, 2 of whom had known benign prostatic hyperplasia and were later found to have previously undetected prostate cancer. The clinical significance of detection of hematogenous micrometastic prostate cells using PSM primers and potential applications of this molecular assay, as well as the assay for PSA, merit further study.

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