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Keywords:

  • α-methylacyl-CoA-racemase;
  • benign prostatic hyperplasia;
  • immunohistochemistry;
  • P504S;
  • prostatic cancer

Aims:  α-Methylacyl-CoA racemase (AMACR) is a sensitive and specific immunohistochemical marker of prostatic malignancy, staining 80–100% of prostatic cancers with absent staining in benign glands. However, positive staining in benign conditions as well as low rates of AMACR reactivity in prostatic cancer variants have been described. Preliminary use of AMACR immunohistochemistry in our institution has suggested lower specificity and sensitivity for prostatic cancer than initially proposed. The aim of this study was to establish true rates of AMACR reactivity in prostatic cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

Methods and results:  AMACR immunohistochemistry was performed on sections from 57 prostatic cancers and 44 BPH resections. Ninety-one percent of cancers were AMACR+, with diffuse (> 75%) tumour staining in 53% of cases. Thirty-eight percent of tumours showed heterogeneous expression (1–75% tumour staining). This was significantly correlated with increased Gleason score. High-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN) was AMACR+ in 87% of cancers. Eleven percent of BPH showed moderate or strong staining in benign glands, focally mimicking the malignant staining pattern.

Conclusions:  This study confirms heterogeneous AMACR expression in prostatic cancer and shows a correlation with Gleason score. Positive staining in BPH is also documented, thus emphasizing the importance of interpreting AMACR immunohistochemistry in the context of other findings in a diagnostic setting.