Prostate-specific membrane antigen: current and future utility

Semin Urol Oncol. 1998 Feb;16(1):2-12.


Prostate cancer is the most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related death among men. New prostatic markers are needed to increase diagnostic and prognostic effectiveness. One such new marker is prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA). PSMA is a highly prostate-restricted membrane glycoprotein that is expressed in normal prostatic epithelial cells and elevated in prostate cancers, especially in poorly differentiated, metastatic, and hormone refractory carcinomas. It has been measured in serum with immunocompetitive and Western blot assays, and its levels have been found to be correlated with the prediction of treatment failure and disease prognosis. Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assays with primers specific for PSMA have been shown to be more effective than PSA-specific primers in detecting hematogenous circulating prostate cancer cells; however, no clear benefit in patient staging or utility as a predictor of clinical outcome or response to treatment has so far been obtained using RT-PCR methods. PSMA is currently utilized as an immunoscintigraphic target using the antibody conjugate CYT-356 (ProstaScint; Cytogen, Princeton, NJ) and has been shown to have clinical value, particularly in detecting occult prostate cancer. Another current application of PSMA is in immunotherapy of prostate cancer, in which promising results have been obtained in a phase I trial, and a phase II trial is underway. The research summarized in this article indicates that PSMA is an excellent target for diagnostic and therapeutic applications in prostate cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Neoplasm / blood*
  • Antigens, Surface / blood*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Carboxypeptidases / blood*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Glutamate Carboxypeptidase II
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / blood
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / therapy


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Antigens, Surface
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Carboxypeptidases
  • FOLH1 protein, human
  • Glutamate Carboxypeptidase II
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen