Nearly all primary prostatic carcinomas have been found to express the androgen receptor (AR) protein, which is the intracellular mediator of androgen action. To gain a better insight into the mechanisms of androgen independence of advanced prostatic carcinoma, it is important to know whether the AR is also present in metastases of androgen-independent tumors. We have assessed the status of the AR and the prostate-specific antigen in 22 metastases of 18 patients with progressive prostate cancer. In 18 cases, the metastases were localized in bone, in 3 cases in the epidural space, and in 1 case in the periosteum. All but one patient had received some kind of endocrine treatment for prostatic carcinoma. Paraffin-embedded tissue sections were stained for the AR following a streptavidinbiotin-peroxidase protocol with the polyclonal antibody PG-21, which is directed against amino acids 1 through 21 of the rat and the human AR. The percentage of AR-positive cells was evaluated on the basis of an arbitrary 4-point scale. All 22 tumor metastases displayed AR positivity. One AR-positive metastatic lesion did not stain for prostate-specific antigen, but in all other metastases, this protein was detected by means of immunohistochemistry. The present study provides evidence that, unlike androgen-independent prostatic carcinoma cell lines, distant prostatic carcinoma metastases do express the AR. These findings indicate that the AR may be involved in the progression of prostate cancer.
Supported by the Austrian Research Fund (FWF SFB 002 P203).