Glutathione S-transferases (GSTs), inducible enzymes that catalyze the detoxification of reactive electrophiles and oxidants, protect against neoplastic transformation. Prostatic adenocarcinoma and high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (HGPIN) fail to express GSTP1, a major class of GST. This failure of expression is associated with methlyation of the GSTP1 promoter, a somatic alteration proposed to be a critical step in prostatic carcinogenesis. However, simple atrophy and post-atrophic hyperplasia—proliferative lesions associated with chronic inflammation, which we have termed “proliferative inflammatory atrophy” (PIA)—express elevated levels of GSTP1. We postulated that this increase in GSTP1 expression in PIA occurs in response to increased oxidative stress. We examined the expression of another major class of GST, GSTA1, in the human prostate.
We performed immunohistochemistry against GSTA1 on formalin-fixed radical prostatectomies (n = 45). A stereological grid point counting method was used to estimate the percent of cells staining positive for GSTA1 in normal prostate, PIA, HGPIN, and adenocarcinoma.
In contrast to GSTP1, normal peripheral zone epithelium was virtually devoid of GSTA1. Strikingly, though, epithelial cells in PIA demonstrated strong staining for GSTA1 (median of percent of cells staining positive = 44) as compared to those in normal peripheral zone (median = 3.0, P < .00001), HGPIN (median = 2.9, P < .00001), and adenocarcinoma (median = 3.8, P < .00001). Variations in GSTA1 were also detected between normal anatomic zones: the central zone showed an increase in the percentage of cells staining positive (median = 20.9) as compared to the transition (median = 0.47, P < .0002) and the peripheral (P < .0001) zones.
Expression of GSTA1 is increased in PIA, supporting the concept that cells within these lesions are subject to localized increases in oxidative stress. Low levels of GSTA1 and GSTP1 in HGPIN and adenocarcinoma suggest a broad lack of detoxification activity in these cells, which may be associated with carcinogenesis in the prostate. Prostate 49:30–37, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.