• Prostate;
  • carcinoma;
  • lectin;
  • histochemistry;
  • metastatic disease;
  • glycoconjugates

Objective To investigate the hypothesis that primary prostatic carcinomas with metastases to different sites (lymph nodes or bone) show varying expression of cell surface and cytoplasmic glycoconjugates.

Patients and methods A group of 14 patients with primary prostatic carcinoma with lymph node metastases but no bone metastases has previously been shown to have an increased survival time. This group was compared with a control group of 14 patients with lymph node-negative, bone metastasis-positive primary prostatic carcinoma using a panel of biotinylated lectins revealed by the avidin-biotin peroxidase complex method. The results were analysed semiquantitatively and differences in binding patterns between the two groups were sought.

Results No significant differences were seen using the LCA, LTA, UEA-1, WFA, VVA or SBA lectins. The group with bone metastases but no lymph node involvement showed significantly increased binding for the ECA and AHA lectins, both before and after neuraminidase pre-treatment, compared with the lymph node-positive group.

Conclusions These results suggest that tumours lacking or having a reduced affinity for binding sites for both Galβl-3GalNac (Type I oligosaccharide structures- AHA) and Galβl-4GlcNac (Type I1 oligosaccharide structures-ECA) sequences are more likely to develop lymph node metastases and less likely to develop bone metastases and thereby increasing the patient's chances of survival. This is further evidence that the metastatic potential of tumours per se and the ultimate site of distal metastases from such tumours is affected in part by the glycoconjugates expressed on their cell surfaces and indicates that metastatic phenotypes for prostatic carcinoma exists.