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Anat Rec. 1995 Mar;241(3):353-62.

Cathepsin B in angiogenesis of human prostate: an immunohistochemical and immunoelectron microscopic analysis.

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Research Service, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.



Angiogenesis (or neovascularization) is required for the growth of solid organ tumors and precedes invasion of the adjacent stroma by neoplastic cells. We investigated the relative density and distribution of cathepsin B (CB) immunostained microvessels (i.e., small blood vessels and capillaries) in benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN), and prostatic adenocarcinoma (CAP) by immunocytochemical localization of an antibody directed against a cathepsin B-derived synthetic peptide (Syn-CB).


We studied 16 formalin-fixed, prostatectomy specimens that were embedded in paraffin/paraplast for histological examination by hematoxylin and eosin and immuno-localization of the Syn-CB antibody. Selected paraformaldehyde-fixed specimens were embedded in K4M Lowicryl or LRWhite resins. We localized the antibody in thin sections using immunoelectron microscopy techniques.


Eight patients had BPH [4 patients with BPH alone, 2 with BPH and PIN, and 2 with BPH and CAP]. Ten cancer cases included one with Gleason histologic score 4, two with score 6, four with score 7, and three with score 8. In CAP cases, Gleason score 6 and 7 tumors had more microvessels than the score 4 or 8 tumors. In both BPH and CAP cases, the antibody was localized chiefly in the endothelial cells of microvessels, but occasionally in ductal and glandular epithelial cells. Ultrastructurally, CB-immunoreactive gold particles were markedly increased at the luminal and basal plasma membrane surfaces and folds of endothelial cells in neoplastic prostate, but not in the endothelial cells of BPH. Furthermore, the presence of CB localizing gold particles in collagen and smooth muscle fibers near the microvessels indicated leakage of the enzyme in prostatic stroma of neoplastic prostate. Similar leakage was not observed in BPH. Morphometric analysis showed that the relative density of microvessels increased two to three times in cancer patients when compared to patients with BPH alone. Our study also indicated that BPH associated with PIN or CAP had an increased density of microvessels when compared to BPH alone.


Our study showed that the relative density and distribution of microvessels are the most important features of neovascularization in prostatic tumors. The relative density of microvessels increased in PIN and CAP when compared to BPH alone. Although the localization of CB is associated with lysosomes of endothelial cells in both BPH and CAP, there is a greater association of CB with the plasma membranes of endothelial cells in CAP than BPH. Immunoelectron microscopy provided evidence that CB might be involved in dissolution of basement membranes in neoplastic tumors during angiogenesis. CB localization has the potential of defining a role for this protease in degradation of extracellular matrix constituents during early steps of angiogenesis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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