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Cancer. 1998 Dec 15;83(12):2540-7.

The importance of human glandular kallikrein and its correlation with different prostate specific antigen serum forms in the detection of prostate carcinoma.

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Clinic of Urology, Kantonsspital Aarau, Switzerland.



Human glandular kallikrein (hK2), the prostate specific antigen (PSA) close homologue, possesses approximately 80% structure identity with PSA. The identification of PSA was an important step in the detection of prostate carcinoma (PCa). Thus, hK2 measurement in the serum has the potential to become another important diagnostic test for PCa. In the current study, the authors measured the serum concentrations of the hK2 with "in-house" immunofluorometric assays in different patient groups. The correlation between serum hK2 and different PSA forms was investigated.


The prospectively collected serum samples were obtained preoperatively on admission from 311 consecutive male patients. Sixteen patients did not fulfill inclusion criteria; the remaining patients were divided into four groups (Groups I-III confirmed histologically): Group I: patients with PCa (n = 56); Group II: patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) (n = 163); Group III: patients with BPH with a chronic in-dwelling catheter (BPH cat) (n = 44); and Group IV-control group (n = 32). The patients in Group IV had urolithiasis, varicocele, or kidney or bladder tumors). An experimental immunofluorometric assay with an analytic sensitivity of 0.01 ng/mL and a functional sensitivity of 0.05 ng/mL was used to determine serum hK2 concentrations. Total PSA, free PSA, and PSA complexed to alpha-1-antichymotrypsin (PSA-ACT) also were measured. hK2 concentrations equal to or above the functional sensitivity limit were correlated with each of these PSA serum forms. Free to total PSA, hK2 to total PSA, and hK2 to free PSA ratios were calculated and compared in different patient groups.


The hK2 concentrations were equal to or above the functional sensitivity limit in 179 of 311 samples (57.6%). In these samples, hK2 correlated best with free PSA (correlation coefficient [r] = 0.79) and correlated well with total PSA (r = 0.72) and PSA-ACT (r = 0.74). Similar correlations also could be observed when each clinical group was analyzed separately. The median proportion of hK2 in relation to total PSA was 2.1%, 1.8%, and 1.4%, respectively, for PCa, BPH, and BPH cat patients. Both the free to total PSA ratio and the hK2 to free PSA ratio discriminated well between PCa and BPH patients. Within the range of total PSA of 4-10 ng/mL (PCa [n = 11] and BPH [n = 41]) the hK2 to free PSA ratio had a specificity of 63.4% and 90.9% sensitivity (area under the receiver operating characteristic [ROC] curve = 0.85) whereas the free to total PSA ratio had a 34.1% specificity at the same sensitivity level (area under ROC curve = 0.74).


The hK2 serum level correlates well with all PSA serum forms in all clearly defined clinical groups. The preliminary finding that the hK2 to free PSA ratio appeared to improve the detection of PCa compared with the free to total PSA ratio in patients with total PSA within a 4-10 ng/mL range is of clinical interest. Combining human serine proteases in the multivariate regression analysis will be a tool to improve cancer detection. Further investigations with more sensitive hK2 assays and in larger patient populations are needed to confirm this finding.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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