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AKR1C3 overexpression may serve as a promising biomarker for prostate cancer progression

Yuantong Tian13, Lijing Zhao1, Haitao Zhang2, Xichun Liu2, Lijuan Zhao1, Xuejian Zhao1, Yi Li1* and Jing Li1*

Author Affiliations

1 College of Basic Medical Sciences, Jilin University, Changchun 130021, Jilin, China

2 Tulane Cancer Center, Tulane University School of Medicine, 1430 Tulane Avenue SL-79, 70112 New Orleans, LA, USA

3 Gannan Medical University, Ganzhou 341000, Jiangxi, China

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Diagnostic Pathology 2014, 9:42  doi:10.1186/1746-1596-9-42

Published: 26 February 2014



Aldo-keto reductase family 1 member C3 (AKR1C3) is a key steroidogenic enzyme that is overexpressed in prostate cancer (PCa) and is associated with the development of castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). The aim of this study was to investigate the correlation between the expression level of AKR1C3 and the progression of PCa.


Sixty human prostate needle biopsy tissue specimens and ten LNCaP xenografts from intact or castrated male mice were included in the study. The relationship between the level of AKR1C3 expression by immunohistochemistry and evaluation factors for PCa progression, including prostate-specific antigen (PSA), Gleason score (GS) and age, were analyzed.


Low immunoreactivity of AKR1C3 was detected in normal prostate epithelium, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN). Positive staining was gradually increased with an elevated GS in PCa epithelium and LNCaP xenografts in mice after castration. The Spearman’s r values (rs) of AKR1C3 to GS and PSA levels were 0.396 (P = 0.025) and -0.377 (P = 0.036), respectively, in PCa biopsies. The rs of AKR1C3 to age was 0.76 (P = 0.011). No statistically significant difference was found with other variables.


Our study suggests that the level of AKR.

1C3 expression is positively correlated with an elevated GS, indicating that AKR1C3 can serve as a promising biomarker for the progression of PCa.

Virtual slides

The virtual slide(s) for this article can be found here: webcite.

AKR1C3; Prostate cancer; Gleason score; PSA; Biomarker