Decreased levels of the cell-cell adhesion molecule E-cadherin are associated with loss of differentiation in a number of human carcinomas. However, the value of E-cadherin as a prognostic marker in these cancers is largely undetermined. A previous study of E-cadherin levels in prostate cancer revealed that almost 50% of tumors examined had reduced or absent levels of this protein (Umbas et al., Cancer Res., 52: 5104–5109, 1992). To determine the potential prognostic significance of this finding, prostate cancer specimens from 89 patients were evaluated immunohistochemically for E-cadherin expression, and the results were related to histopathological grade, tumor stage, presence of metastases, and survival.

As previously observed, a significant inverse correlation was found between E-cadherin expression and tumor grade. Importantly, we also found significant correlations between E-cadherin expression and tumor stage and overall survival. Sixty-three percent of the tumors that extended beyond the prostate capsule (T3–4) versus 33% of the tumors confined to the prostate (T1–2) had aberrant expression (χ2 = 8.1, P < 0.005). Seventy-six percent of the primary tumors from patients that presented with metastases showed aberrant staining compared to 32% from patients without metastases (χ2 = 14.9; P < 0.001). The life table analysis showed a significantly higher survival rate for patients with normal staining compared to patients with aberrant expression (χ2 = 20.4, P < 0.001 by log rank test). Moreover, abnormal expression of E-cadherin correlated significantly with progression after radical prostatectomy (P < 0.005). These results suggest that E-cadherin expression can serve as a prognostic indicator for the biological potential of prostate cancer.


Supported by Grants NUKC 9001 and 9281 from the Dutch Cancer Foundation, Van Deventer Maas Stichting (R. U.).

This content is only available via PDF.