Quantitation of apoptotic activity following castration in human prostatic tissue in vivo

Prostate. 2003 Feb 15;54(3):212-9. doi: 10.1002/pros.10179.


Background: Androgen deprivation induces apoptosis in the prostate. Representative data, quantitating apoptotic activity in human prostatic epithelium following androgen ablation, are lacking.

Methods: Human prostatic tissue was grafted beneath the renal capsule of intact male athymic mice and allowed to become established. The mice were castrated and specimens were harvested on post-castration day 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 17, 18, and 21. Tissue was immediately fixed and apoptotic epithelial nuclei were identified.

Results: The percentage of terminal deoxynucleotidyl-transferase-mediated dUTP nick end-labeling (TUNEL) positive epithelial cells increased from a baseline of 0.026%, peaked on post-castration day 3 (1.54%), and returned to baseline by day 21. Mathematical analysis predicted that the observed apoptotic activity account for the loss of 87% of prostatic epithelial cells in 3 weeks.

Conclusions: Post-castration apoptosis in human prostatic epithelium was low but was sufficient to account for the loss of nearly 90% of epithelial cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Androgens / deficiency
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis*
  • Epithelial Cells / pathology
  • Humans
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Orchiectomy*
  • Prostate / pathology*
  • Prostate / transplantation*
  • Transplantation, Heterologous


  • Androgens