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Prostate. 1997 Mar 1;30(4):274-9.

Loss of low-affinity nerve growth factor receptor during malignant transformation of the human prostate.

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Department of Surgery, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC 20007, USA.



The low-affinity nerve growth factor receptor (LNGFR) exhibits an inverse association of epithelial expression with the degree of differentiation of prostate adenocarcinoma tissue. However, the stage at which loss of LNGFR expression is first manifested in the malignant prostate has not been determined.


In order to characterize loss of LNGFR expression in the clinically localized malignant prostate of untreated patients, the pattern of expression of the LNGFR was examined in nonmalignant tissues, consisting of normal and prostatic intraepithelial neoplastic tissues, and in malignant tissues that had been graded by Gleason's scores and categorized into well, moderately, and poorly differentiated adenocarcinomas. In order to determine whether there was an inverse correlation between LNGFR expression and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) secretion, preoperative concentrations of PSA in the serum were also analyzed in relation to the differentiative state of the adenocarcinomas.


Premalignant prostate tissues exhibited expression of the LNGFR on all epithelia, whereas in malignant prostate tissues a proportion of epithelia exhibited loss of expression of the LNGFR. An increase in Gleason score of the adenocarcinoma tissue was associated with an increase in the proportion of epithelia that exhibited loss of expression of the LNGFR. Moreover, the proportion of epithelia expressing the LNGFR was inversely correlated with an increase in the concentration of serum PSA. The loss of LNGFR expression was first manifested in epithelia that occurred toward the center of adenocarcinoma tissue. Furthermore, extensive loss of expression of the LNGFR of approximately 63% occurred in well-differentiated adenocarcinomas.


These observations demonstrate that loss of LNGFR expression is first observed in well-differentiated malignant epithelia. Hence, loss of the LNGFR may be indicative of the initial stages of malignant transformation of prostate epithelia, as well as all subsequent stages of prostate adenocarcinomas.

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