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Caspases are essential initiators and executioners of apoptosis. Changes in their expression may contribute to the development of proliferative disorders such as cancer, by altering the death-proliferation homeostatic balance. The aim of this work was to analyze the expression of a broad panel of caspases at the epithelial level in human prostate tissues to assess possible prostatic disease-related alterations. We comparatively analyzed by immunohistochemistry the expression of pro-caspase-3, pro-caspase-8, pro-caspase-9, cleaved caspase-3, cleaved caspase-8, and caspase-7, in normal and pathologic (benign hyperplasic, premalignant [high-grade intraepithelial neoplasia], and cancerous [prostate cancer]) human prostate epithelium. Expression of caspases was correlated with clinicopathologic features, including preoperative prostate-specific antigen levels, Gleason scores, and biochemical progression. Percentage of positive samples for all the analyzed caspases decreased in prostate cancer versus normal prostate epithelium. The values obtained for benign prostatic hyperplasia and high-grade intraepithelial neoplasia more qualitatively resembled those of the prostate cancer group. Our results indicate that caspase expression in prostate malignant cells is reduced in a substantial number of patients and that such an alteration occurs in the premalignant stage. Loss of caspase expression could constitute a useful marker for prostate cancer diagnosis. Therapeutic approaches aimed to recover or enhance caspase expression might be effective against prostate cancer.

Original publication




Journal article


Hum Pathol

Publication Date





229 - 237


Adenocarcinoma, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Biomarkers, Tumor, Caspases, Epithelial Cells, Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect, Humans, Immunoenzyme Techniques, Male, Middle Aged, Precancerous Conditions, Prostate-Specific Antigen, Prostatic Hyperplasia, Prostatic Intraepithelial Neoplasia, Prostatic Neoplasms