Heritability of prostate-specific antigen and relationship with zonal prostate volumes in aging twins

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2000 Mar;85(3):1272-6. doi: 10.1210/jcem.85.3.6399.


Both benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) have been shown to increase with age and with prostate volume in men, but the influence of heredity on these relationships is not completely understood. This study has two aims: 1) to investigate the inter-relationships of age, PSA, and various zonal measurements in the prostate; and 2) to assess the impact of heritable influences on total PSA. Eighty-four monozygotic twin pairs and 83 dizygotic twin pairs were studied, and serum total PSA, free PSA, and PSA-alpha1-antichymotrypsin were measured. Their prostate volumes [total (TV), transition zone (TZ), and peripheral zone) were quantitated using transrectal ultrasound. Total PSA is significantly correlated with all zonal prostate measurements (TZ, peripheral zone, TV, and TZ/TV) and with age. When linear regression was applied, only age and TZ were retained in the final model. The proportion of variability in total PSA explained by these two factors, however, is below 24%. In contrast, estimates of heritability show that approximately 45% of the variability in total PSA can be explained by inherited factors. Whereas age and TZ are linearly related to total PSA, their influence is much less than that of familial and genetic factors. It is uncertain whether these factors predispose also to prostate cancer or if they are independent of those, whether they confound the accuracy of using total serum PSA level as a diagnostic tool.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prostate / anatomy & histology*
  • Prostate / diagnostic imaging
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / biosynthesis
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / genetics*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Ultrasonography


  • Prostate-Specific Antigen