Background: Inflammation, both acute and chronic, is a common feature of prostate histology. While inflammation has been proposed to play an important role in both benign and malignant growth of the prostate, the stimuli for this inflammation remain poorly characterized. Infectious pathogens are potential stimuli for prostatic inflammation.
Methods: Universal eubacterial PCR was used to test 170 prostate tissue core samples from 30 cancer patients for 16S rDNA gene sequences. Positive PCR products (n=64, 37%) were cloned and sequenced. For comparison, tissue samples from 30 patients were cultured using standard clinical microbiological techniques. DNA samples from 200 additional patients were tested by organism-specific PCR for the presence of Chlamydia trachomatis, Propionibacterium acnes, Trichomonas vaginalis, BK virus, Epstein-Barr virus, human cytomegalovirus, human papillomavirus, and xenotropic murine leukemia-related virus.
Results: 16S sequencing results indicated the presence of 83 distinct microorganisms. Microbiological culture isolated markedly fewer species. In general, organism-specific PCR failed to detect multiple organisms previously reported as common in the prostate. There was no significant association between the presence of particular species of bacteria and histologic evidence of acute or chronic inflammation.
Conclusions: Most prostates from men undergoing prostatectomy (87%) contain bacterial DNA from one or more species. However, the majority of individual tissue core samples were negative, suggesting regional heterogeneity in the presence of bacteria and a lack of a generalized or ubiquitous prostatic flora. Culture results suggest either the "unculturable" nature of species present in the prostate or that 16S rDNA sequences were derived from non-viable bacteria.