Differential percentage of serum prostate-specific antigen subforms suggests a new way to improve prostate cancer diagnosis

Prostate. 2010 Jan 1;70(1):1-9. doi: 10.1002/pros.21031.


Background: Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is the tumor marker currently used for prostate cancer (PCa) screening and diagnosis. However, its use is controversial as serum PSA levels are also increased in other non-malignant prostatic diseases such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). PSA sialic acid content is altered in tumor situation and modifies PSA's isoelectric point (pI). Our goal has been to evaluate serum PSA subforms from PCa and BPH patients by two-dimensional electrophoresis (2-DE) and to investigate whether they could be used to improve PCa diagnosis.

Methods: PSA from 20 PCa and 20 BPH patients' sera was subjected to a four-step method to obtain serum PSA 2-DE subforms from free PSA (fPSA) plus PSA released from the complex with alpha-1-antichymotrypsin. Relative percentages of PSA spots were quantified and subjected to statistical analysis.

Results: Five PSA subforms (F1, F2, F3, F4, and F5) of different pI were obtained. Relative percentages of F3 (%F3) and F4 (%F4) were different between PCa and BPH groups. %F3 decreased in cancers and this decrease correlated with the cancer stage, while F4 behaved oppositely. These observations were also found when only focusing on the patients within the low total PSA (tPSA) range 2-20 ng/ml.

Conclusions: %F3 showed a tendency of higher sensitivity and specificity than the currently used tPSA and %fPSA tests. Therefore, %F3 measurement should be investigated in a larger cohort of patients to study whether it could be introduced to improve PCa diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood*
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine / standards*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Isoenzymes / blood
  • Isoenzymes / classification
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / blood*
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / classification
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / blood
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Isoenzymes
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen