Objectives: Heme oxygenase isozymes, HO-1 and HO-2, are members of the stress/heat shock (HSP) family of proteins, with the known function of cleaving the heme molecule to biliverdin, iron, and carbon monoxide. The aim of this study was to examine the pattern of tissue expression of HO-1 in the human prostate under different states of proliferation and differentiation and to investigate whether the pattern differs between these states.
Methods: Presently, we have determined the pattern of tissue expression of the stress-inducible isozyme, HO-1 (HSP32), in human prostate under normal and pathologic conditions, by immunohistochemistry, using polyclonal antibodies, and have measured HO-1 and HO-2 mRNA levels in normal prostate and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) by Northern blotting. The activity of prostate to catalyze heme degradation was also assessed.
Results: In normal and BPH tissue, columnar epithelial cells of acini and ducts and cells in stroma displayed HO-1 immunoreactivity; in all cells, perinuclear staining was prominent. In BPH tissue, however, a more intense staining of the epithelial cells occurred, with notable staining of the basal cells. In undifferentiated malignant tumors, intense HO-1 staining was manifest in nearly all tumor cells, and also in the epithelial lining of blood vessels. HO-1 in the prostate tissue was found catalytically active and oxidatively cleaved the heme molecule (Fe-protoporphyrin IX) to biliverdin. Northern blot analysis shows that two forms of HO are present in the human prostate. Compared with normal tissue, predominantly hyperplastic tissue demonstrates a pronounced increase in the approximately 1.8 kb mRNA that hybridizes to the rat HO-1 probe. The levels of two transcripts, approximately 1.3 and approximately 1.7 kb, that hybridize to the rat HO-2 probe are not increased in BPH tissue.
Conclusions: The finding that HO-1 expression is increased in BPH and malignant prostate tissue is consistent with a role for this stress protein in the pathogenesis of BPH and prostate cancer; in the context of iron metabolism, an argument is made in support of this possibility.