Objective: To determine the E-cadherin and beta-catenin expression phenotype in untreated primary prostate cancer and corresponding bone metastases.
Materials and methods: Paired bone metastasis and primary prostate specimens were obtained from 14 men with untreated metastatic prostate carcinoma. The tumours were histologically graded by an independent pathologist. Expression of mRNA for E-cadherin and beta-catenin was detected within the tumour cells using in-situ hybridization with a 35S-labelled cDNA probe. The expression of E-cadherin and beta-catenin were graded as uniform, heterogeneous or negative.
Results: The mRNA for E-cadherin was expressed in 13 of 14 primary carcinomas and 11 bone metastases; beta-catenin was expressed by 13 and nine, respectively. Of the primary tumours, nine expressed E-cadherin and beta-catenin uniformly; in contrast, all metastases had down-regulated E-cadherin and/or beta-catenin.
Conclusions: The down-regulation of E-cadherin and beta-catenin are a feature of the metastatic phenotype, which may be a significant factor in the genesis of bone metastases. However, this does not appear to be reflected in the expression of these molecules in the primary tumours.