Background: Recent epidemiologic, genetic, and molecular studies suggest infection and inflammation initiate certain cancers, including cancers of the prostate. Over the past several years, our group has been studying how mycoplasmas could possibly initiate and propagate cancers of the prostate. Specifically, Mycoplasma hyorhinis encoded protein p37 was found to promote invasion of prostate cancer cells and cause changes in growth, morphology and gene expression of these cells to a more aggressive phenotype. Moreover, we found that chronic exposure of benign human prostate cells to M. hyorhinis resulted in significant phenotypic and karyotypic changes that ultimately resulted in the malignant transformation of the benign cells. In this study, we set out to investigate another potential link between mycoplasma and human prostate cancer.
Methods: We report the incidence of men with prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) being seropositive for M. hyorhinis. Antibodies to M. hyorhinis were surveyed by a novel indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in serum samples collected from men presenting to an outpatient Urology clinic for BPH (N = 105) or prostate cancer (N = 114) from 2006-2009.
Results: A seropositive rate of 36% in men with BPH and 52% in men with prostate cancer was reported, thus leading us to speculate a possible connection between M. hyorhinis exposure with prostate cancer.
Conclusions: These results further support a potential exacerbating role for mycoplasma in the development of prostate cancer.