Differential alterations in 5alpha-reductase type 1 and type 2 levels during development and progression of prostate cancer

Prostate. 2005 May 15;63(3):231-9. doi: 10.1002/pros.20188.


Background: In the prostate, conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), by the enzymes 5alpha-reductase types 1 and 2 (5alphaR1, 5alphaR2) is required for normal growth and probably also for development of prostate cancer (PCa). Finasteride, a 5alphaR2 inhibitor, was shown to reduce the prevalence of PCa in the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial. However, inhibition of both 5alphaR isoenzymes causes a greater decrease in serum DHT. The aim of this study was to assess differential expression of these enzymes at various stages of PCa development.

Methods: Immunostaining for 5alphaR1 and 5alphaR2, using specific, well-validated antibodies, was evaluated in 26 benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) (16 for 5alphaR2), 53 primary PCa (21 for 5alphaR2), 18 prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN), 12 primary PCa treated with neoadjuvant androgen ablation, 15 locally recurrent PCa specimens, and 18 PCa metastases.

Results: The mean area of moderate plus high intensity staining for 5alphaR1 increased from 4.8 +/- 2.8% of total epithelial area in BPH, to 18.9 +/- 5.7% in PIN, 17.0 +/- 3.2% in primary cancer, 38.0 +/- 7.3% in recurrent cancer, and 55.8 +/- 8.5% in PCa metastases. The mean staining area for 5alphaR2 decreased from 58.8 +/- 7.2% in BPH, to 21.1 +/- 5.5% in PIN and 34.8 +/- 6.7% in primary PCa. Staining for 5alphaR2 was increased in recurrent cancer and PCa metastases compared to primary PCa, at 58.7 +/- 5.2% and 69.2 +/- 8.7%, respectively.

Conclusions: 5alphaR1 immunostaining is increased and 5alphaR2 immunostaining is decreased during development of PCa. In addition, there is increased expression of both 5alphaR isozymes in recurrent and metastatic cancers, suggesting that both isozymes may be important in the development and progression of PCa.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3-Oxo-5-alpha-Steroid 4-Dehydrogenase / analysis*
  • 3-Oxo-5-alpha-Steroid 4-Dehydrogenase / genetics
  • Animals
  • Antibody Specificity
  • Blotting, Western
  • COS Cells
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Isoenzymes / analysis*
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / enzymology
  • Prostatic Hyperplasia / enzymology
  • Prostatic Intraepithelial Neoplasia / enzymology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Transfection


  • Isoenzymes
  • 3-Oxo-5-alpha-Steroid 4-Dehydrogenase