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Clin Invest Med. 1997 Dec;20(6):371-80.

Metallothionein expression in prostatic carcinoma: correlation with Gleason grade, pathologic stage, DNA content and serum level of prostate-specific antigen.

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Department of Pathology, University of Western Ontario, London.



To determine the expression of metallothionein (MT) in prostatic carcinoma by immunohistochemical staining. Several lines of evidence have indicated that MT may play a role in carcinogenesis and in drug resistance of tumours.


Retrospective pathologic study.


Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded archival tissues from 39 radical prostatectomies were analysed. All tumour foci were stained by ABC technique using a primary polyclonal rabbit antibody against rat liver MT. The staining intensity for MT was graded on a scale of 0 to 2+, and the histologic grading was done by the scheme of Gleason.


Correlation of MT expression with Gleason grade, preoperative serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels, pathologic stage and DNA content, including S-phase fraction (SPF) and proliferative index (PI).


Most of the epithelium of normal prostate tissue had patchy, intense MT staining. All the grade II tumours foci showed intense (2+) staining for MT, while all grade IV and V foci were persistently negative. The grade III tumours foci were heterogeneous. The MT-positive foci showed both nuclear and cytoplasmic staining of variable extent. There were 9, 15, 13 and 2 tumours with pathologic stage B, C1, C2 and D1, respectively. The serum PSA levels ranged from 1 to 16 ng/mL. No apparent correlation existed between the MT staining pattern and the pathologic stage or preoperative PSA level. Thirty-four of the tumours were diploid and 5 were tetraploid. There were significantly higher SPF and PI mean values in the MT-stained tumour cells (p < 0.05), suggesting that MT preferentially stains an epithelial subpopulation, possibly the proliferating cell compartment.


The positive correlation of MT expression with Gleason grade in prostatic adenocarcinoma suggests a possible role for MT in oncogenesis in prostate cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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