Nuclear translocation of haeme oxygenase-1 is associated to prostate cancer

Br J Cancer. 2007 Dec 17;97(12):1683-9. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6604081. Epub 2007 Nov 20.


The role of oxidative stress in prostate cancer has been increasingly recognised. Acute and chronic inflammations generate reactive oxygen species that result in damage to cellular structures. Haeme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) has cytoprotective effects against oxidative damage. We hypothesise that modulation of HO-1 expression may be involved in the process of prostate carcinogenesis and prostate cancer progression. We thus studied HO-1 expression and localisation in 85 samples of organ-confined primary prostate cancer obtained via radical prostatectomy (Gleason grades 4-9) and in 39 specimens of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). We assessed HO-1 expression by immunohistochemical staining. No significant difference was observed in the cytoplasmic positive reactivity among tumours (84%), non-neoplastic surrounding parenchyma (89%), or BPH samples (87%) (P=0.53). Haeme oxygenase-1 immunostaining was detected in the nuclei of prostate cancer cells in 55 of 85 (65%) patients but less often in non-neoplastic surrounding parenchyma (30 of 85, 35%) or in BPH (9 of 39, 23%) (P<0.0001). Immunocytochemical and western blot analysis showed HO-1 only in the cytoplasmic compartment of PC3 and LNCaP prostate cancer cell lines. Treatment with hemin, a well-known specific inducer of HO-1, led to clear nuclear localisation of HO-1 in both cell lines and highly induced HO-1 expression in both cellular compartments. These findings have demonstrated, for the first time, that HO-1 expression and nuclear localisation can define a new subgroup of prostate cancer primary tumours and that the modulation of HO-1 expression and its nuclear translocation could represent new avenues for therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Active Transport, Cell Nucleus
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism*
  • Heme Oxygenase-1 / metabolism*
  • Hemin / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prostatic Hyperplasia / enzymology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Hemin
  • Heme Oxygenase-1