Androgen receptor expression in prostate cancer lymph node metastases is predictive of outcome after surgery

Susan D. Sweat, Anna Pacelli, Erik J. Bergstralh, Jeffrey M. Slezak, Liang Cheng, David G. Bostwick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

29 Scopus citations


Purpose: Androgens mediate the growth of prostate cancer cells. The predictive value of androgen receptor immunostaining in patient outcome is controversial. We studied the expression of androgen receptors in a large series of patients with node positive cancer, and correlated the results with clinical progression and survival. Materials and Methods: We evaluated 197 patients with a mean age of 65.5 years who had node positive adenocarcinoma, and who underwent bilateral pelvic lymphadenectomy and/or radical prostatectomy at our clinic between 1987 and 1992. Mean followup was 6.3 years. Immunohistochemical studies were performed using an antihuman androgen receptor monoclonal antibody. In each case 100 nuclei were counted from 3 separate areas (total 300 nuclei per diagnostic category) of benign epithelium, cancer and lymph node metastases. Mean androgen receptor expression was determined from the mean of the individual cases. The intensity of immunoreactivity was evaluated on a scale of 0-no staining to 3- strong staining. We assessed the correlation of androgen receptor immunoreactivity, deoxyribonucleic acid ploidy, Gleason score and preoperative serum prostate specific antigen (PSA) with clinical progression, all cause survival and cancer specific survival using the Cox proportional hazards model. Clinical progression was defined as a positive bone scan. Results: There was heterogeneous staining in the majority of cells in benign and malignant prostatic epithelium. The mean number of immunoreactive nuclei was similar in all groups (56, 53 and 56% of benign epithelium, cancer and lymph node metastases, respectively). Pairwise comparisons revealed that the only significant difference was between benign epithelium and cancer (p = 0.001) with greater immunoreactivity in benign epithelium. Intensity was lower in benign epithelium than in cancer and lymph nodes (p <0.05). Androgen receptor expression in lymph node metastases was associated with all cause and cancer specific survival on univariate analysis (p = 0.03 and 0.04, respectively). The 7-year cause specific survival was 98, 94 and 86% in patients with 51 to 69, less than 50 and greater than 70% androgen receptor expression in lymph node metastases, respectively (p <0.05). The association of androgen receptor expression in lymph node metastases was significant on multivariate analysis for cancer specific survival (p = 0.021) but not all cause survival (p = 0.16) after controlling for Gleason score, deoxyribo- nucleic acid ploidy and preoperative PSA. Androgen receptor immunoreactivity in lymph nodes was not a significant univariate or multivariate predictor of clinical progression, while androgen receptor expression in the primary cancer was not predictive of clinical progression or survival (p >0.05). Conclusions: Androgen receptor expression was similar in benign epithelium, primary cancer and lymph node metastases with approximately half of the epithelial cell nuclei staining. Androgen receptor immunoreactivity in lymph node metastases was predictive of cancer specific but not all cause survival in univariate and multivariate models. Gleason score was the strongest predictor of all cause survival in this cohort of patients. Our results indicate that it may be clinically useful to determine lymph node androgen receptor expression in men with advanced prostate cancer when combined with Gleason score and PSA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1233-1237
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Urology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Androgen receptors
  • Lymph nodes
  • Metastases
  • Prostate
  • Prostatic neoplasms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology

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