Background: This study was performed to test the hypothesis that expression of small heat shock protein Hsp-27 is, at diagnosis, a reliable predictive biomarker of clinically aggressive prostate cancer.
Methods: A panel of tissue microarrays constructed from a well-characterised cohort of 553 men with conservatively managed prostate cancer was stained immunohistochemically to detect Hsp-27 protein. Hsp-27 expression was compared with a series of pathological and clinical parameters, including outcome.
Results: Hsp-27 staining was indicative of higher Gleason score (P<0.001). In tissue cores having a Gleason score >7, the presence of Hsp-27 retained its power to independently predict poor clinical outcome (P<0.002). Higher levels of Hsp-27 staining were almost entirely restricted to cancers lacking ERG rearrangements (chi2 trend=31.4, P<0.001), although this distribution did not have prognostic significance.
Interpretation: This study has confirmed that, in prostate cancers managed conservatively over a period of more than 15 years, expression of Hsp-27 is an accurate and independent predictive biomarker of aggressive disease with poor clinical outcome (P<0.001). These findings suggest that apoptotic and cell-migration pathways modulated by Hsp-27 may contain targets susceptible to the development of biologically appropriate chemotherapeutic agents that are likely to prove effective in treating aggressive prostate cancers.