Clusterin is overexpressed during tissue and cell involution and downregulated in proliferating cells. Its role in cell survival, cell death and neoplastic transformation remains debated. We studied the expression and distribution of clusterin mRNA and protein in human prostate carcinoma (CaP) specimens of different degrees of malignancy. Fresh CaP specimens were obtained from 25 patients subjected to long-term androgen ablation before surgery. Clusterin expression was studied by Northern and Western analysis, in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry, in comparison with Gas1 and histone H3 mRNA (markers of cell quiescence and S phase of the cell cycle, respectively). Clusterin is downregulated in CaP in comparison with matched benign controls. In low-grade CaP, clusterin colocalized with Gas1 to the stromal compartment, and in some glands, the basal lamina was heavily stained. In high-grade CaP clusterin stained the remnants of stromal matrix while histone H3 localized to cancer cells, which were very rarely clusterin positive. High clusterin expression was found in the branches of a nerve infiltrated by tumor. The periglandular clusterin expression found in low-grade CaP could result from induction of quiescence and/or apoptosis of prostatic fibroblasts lining those glands in which tumor invasion is at an initial stage, involving basal lamina. In advanced CaP, the staining of the remnants of the extracellular matrix suggests a role for clusterin in the process of dismantling the stromal organization caused by cancer progression.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.