Immunohistochemical Analysis of Radical Prostatectomy Specimens After 8 Months of Neoadjuvant Hormonal Therapy

Mol Urol. 1999;3(3):277-286.


Neoadjuvant hormone therapy (NHT) prior to radical prostatectomy (RP) results in residual foci of atrophic glands, which can be difficult to identify with hematoxylin-eosin staining, raising the possibility that the low positive-margin rates are an artifact of pathologic understaging. The purpose of this study was to evaluate changes in prostate specific antigen (PSA) and prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP), as well as proliferation marker Ki-67 and Bcl-2 oncoprotein, by immunostaining after 8 months of NHT. Twenty-nine men with clinically confined prostate cancer who received 8 months of NHT and had both pretreatment biopsy and RP specimens obtained at Vancouver Hospital constituted the treatment group. The control group consisted of 23 RP specimens from patients not receiving NHT. Sections were stained with antibodies against PSA, PAP, proliferation marker Ki-67, and the antiapoptosis protein Bcl-2. The PSA and PAP immunostaining were graded for percentage of positive tumor cells and intensity of staining, while Ki-67 and Bcl-2 staining was graded according to the percentage of positive tumor cells. Absent or low percentage-positive PSA and PAP staining was observed in 40% to 50% of the NHT-treated RP specimens but none of the needle biopsy or untreated control RP specimens. Low-intensity PSA and PAP staining was detected only in RP specimens after NHT treatment, and then in only 20% of cases. Low or absent Ki-67 staining was noted in 78% of the NHT- treated RP specimens, compared with only 13% of the matched pre-NHT needle biopsies and 26% of untreated RP specimens. The percentage of specimens with high (>5%) Ki-67 staining decreased from 37% in the pre-NHT needle biopsies to 8% in the NHT-treated RP specimens. Bcl-2 staining increased after treatment with NHT, with 20% of the needle biopsies having high (>5%) Bcl-2 staining compared with 53% of the NHT-treated RP specimens. The frequency of low Bcl-2 staining (<1%) decreased from 53% in the pre-NHT needle biopsies to 27% in the NHT-treated RP specimens. Although PAP and PSA staining decreased after NHT, both markers remain sufficiently positive to be used as epithelial markers to help detect residual foci of prostate cancer that are difficult to identify on H&E-stained slides after NHT. Increased Bcl-2 after NHT, even in early-stage disease, is consistent with its role in the prevention of apoptosis and progression to androgen independence. Low levels of Ki-67 staining indicates a low probability of proliferation and outgrowth of androgen-independent clones after 8 months of NHT.