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.

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Supported by the Austrian Research Fund (FWF SFB 002 P203).

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