Prostate-specific membrane antigen expression is greatest in prostate adenocarcinoma and lymph node metastases

Urology. 1998 Oct;52(4):637-40. doi: 10.1016/s0090-4295(98)00278-7.


Objectives: Prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) is an integral membrane protein highly specific for the prostate. PSMA may be clinically useful for predicting outcome in patients with prostate cancer. We compared the expression of PSMA in prostate adenocarcinoma and lymph node metastases in a large series of patients with node-positive cancer.

Methods: We studied 232 patients with node-positive adenocarcinoma who underwent bilateral pelvic lymphadenectomy and radical retropubic prostatectomy at the Mayo Clinic between 1987 and 1992. Immunohistochemistry was performed using monoclonal antibody 7E11-5.3 directed against PSMA. For each case, the percentage of immunoreactive cells in benign prostate tissue, adenocarcinoma, and lymph node metastases was estimated in 10% increments. Intensity was recorded using a scale of 0 to 3 (0 = no staining, 3 = highest).

Results: Cytoplasmic immunoreactivity for PSMA was observed in all cases in benign epithelium and cancer, and most lymph node metastases. The number of cells stained was lowest in benign epithelium; cancer and lymph node metastases were similar (46.2% +/- 27.5% versus 79.3% +/- 18.5% versus 76.4% +/- 26.1%, respectively; all pairs P < 0.05). Intensity of staining was greatest in primary cancer and lowest in lymph node metastases.

Conclusions: PSMA is expressed in benign prostatic epithelium and primary cancer in all cases and in 98% of cases with lymph node metastases. Expression of PSMA was greatest in primary cancer for both percentage and intensity of immunoreactive cells. PSMA expression allows the identification of benign and malignant prostatic epithelium and may be a potentially valuable marker in the treatment of patients with prostate cancer.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism*
  • Adenocarcinoma / secondary
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / biosynthesis*
  • Antigens, Surface*
  • Carboxypeptidases / biosynthesis*
  • Glutamate Carboxypeptidase II
  • Humans
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Antigens, Surface
  • Carboxypeptidases
  • FOLH1 protein, human
  • Glutamate Carboxypeptidase II