Morphometric signature differences in nuclei of Gleason pattern 4 areas in Gleason 7 prostate cancer with differing primary grades on needle biopsy

J Urol. 2009 Jan;181(1):88-93; discussion 93-4. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2008.09.013. Epub 2008 Nov 13.


Purpose: Since clinically significant upgrading of the biopsy Gleason score has an adverse clinical impact, ancillary tools besides the visual determination of primary Gleason pattern are essential to aid in better risk stratification.

Materials and methods: A total of 61 prostate biopsies were selected in patients with a diagnosis of Gleason score 7 prostatic adenocarcinoma, including 41 with primary Gleason pattern 3 and 20 with primary Gleason pattern 4. Slides from these tissues were stained using Feulgen stain, a nuclear DNA stain. Areas of Gleason pattern in all cases were analyzed for 40 nuclear morphometric descriptors of size, shape and chromatin using a CAS-200 system (BD). The primary outcome analyzed was the ability of morphometric features to identify visually determined primary Gleason pattern 4 on the biopsy. Data were analyzed using logistic regression as well as a C4.5 decision tree with and without preselection.

Results: Decision tree analysis yielded the best model. Automatic feature selection identified minimum nuclear diameter as the most discriminative feature in a 3-parameter model with 85% classification accuracy. Using a preselected 3-parameter model including minimum diameter, angularity and sum optical density the decision tree yielded a slightly lesser accuracy of around 79%. Bootstrap validation of logistic regression results revealed that there was no unique model that could significantly explain the variance in primary Gleason pattern status, although minimum nuclear diameter was the most frequently selected parameter.

Conclusions: In this small cohort of patients with Gleason score 7 disease we report that Gleason pattern 4 nuclei from those with primary Gleason pattern 4 are generally larger with coarser chromatin compared with the Gleason pattern 4 in patients with primary Gleason pattern 3. These findings may aid in better risk stratification of the Gleason score 7 group by supplementing visual estimation of the percent of primary Gleason pattern 3 and 4 in the biopsy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology*
  • Aged
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Cell Nucleus / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Regression Analysis