Int J Biol Sci 2009; 5(3):276-285. doi:10.7150/ijbs.5.276

Research Paper

Correlated alterations in prostate basal cell layer and basement membrane

Aijun Liu1, Lixin Wei1, William A. Gardner2, Chu-Xia Deng2, Yan-Gao Man3 ✉

1. Department of Pathology, Chinese PLA General Hospital, Beijing, China
2. Mammalian Genetics Section, GDDB, NIDDK, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA
3. Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and American Registry of Pathology, Washington DC

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Liu A, Wei L, Gardner WA, Deng CX, Man YG. Correlated alterations in prostate basal cell layer and basement membrane. Int J Biol Sci 2009; 5(3):276-285. doi:10.7150/ijbs.5.276. Available from

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Our recent studies revealed that focal basal cell layer disruption (FBCLD) induced auto-immunoreactions represented a contributing factor for human prostate tumor progression and invasion. As the basement membrane surrounds and attaches to the basal cell layer, our current study assessed whether FBCLD would impact the physical integrity of the associated basement membrane. Paraffin sections from 25-human prostate tumors were subjected to double immunohistochemistry to simultaneously elucidate the basal cell layer and the basement membrane with corresponding biomarkers. The physical integrity of the basement membrane overlying FBCLD was examined to determine the extent of correlated alterations. Of a total of 89 FBCLD encountered, 76 (85 %) showed correlated alterations in the overlying basement membrane, which included distinct focal disruptions or fragmentations. In the remaining 13 (15%) FBCLD, the overlying basement membrane showed significant attenuation or reduction of the immunostaining intensity. The basement membrane in all or nearly all ducts or acini with p63 positive basal cells was substantially thicker and more uniform than that in ducts or acini without p63 positive basal cells, and also, a vast majority of the focal disruptions occurred near basal cells that lack p63 expression. These findings suggest that focal disruptions in the basal cell layer and alterations in the basement membrane are correlated events and that the physical and functional status of the basal cells could significantly impact the physical integrity of the overlying basement membrane. As the degradation of both the basal cell layer and the basement membrane is a pre-requisite for prostate tumor invasion or progression, ducts or acini with focally disrupted basal cell layer and basement membrane are likely at greater risk to develop invasive lesions. Thus, further elucidation of the specific molecules and mechanism associated with these events may lead to the development of a more effective alternative for repeat biopsy to monitor tumor progression and invasion.

Keywords: focal basal cell layer disruption, prostate tumors, basement membrane