The Immunohistochemical Analysis of SOCS3 Protein Identifies a Subgroup of Prostatic Cancer Biopsies With Aggressive Behavior

Recently, we demonstrated that hypermethylation of SOCS3 determines a significant reduction of its mRNA and protein expression and identifies a subgroup of prostate cancer with aggressive behavior. In this paper, our objective was to investigate whether the immunohistochemical expression of the SOCS3 protein could represent an alternative method to molecular analysis for the individualization of aggressive prostate carcinoma.

We analyzed the SOCS3 immunohistochemical expression in 65 patients undergoing biopsies at the Institute of Urology of our hospital between September 2011 and October 2011 (median age, 66.4 y; range, 50 to 73 y), and in 35 cases, a subset of 65 cases originally used for the immunohistochemical study, we studied the methylation status of the SOCS3 promoter.

We found that the percentage of cases with SOCS3 negativity (-) or with SOCS3 weak staining in <50% of the neoplastic glands (+/-) correlated to the worst prognosis in terms of the Gleason score (P=0.0001; Fisher's exact test), the pT stage (P=0.012; Fisher's exact test), and progression-free survival (P=0.0334; hazard ratio, 0.34; and 95% confidence interval, from 0.1261 to 0.9188). Moreover, some cases with an SOCS3 unmethylated pattern showed SOCS3-negative immunostaining (-) or SOCS3-negative glands with weak cytoplasmatic staining in <50% of the neoplastic glands (+/-).

Our data suggest that in prostatic cancer biopsies, the immunohistochemical analysis of SOCS3 protein expression may provide a method that is less expensive and easier to apply than SOCS3 methylation analysis for the distinction of a subgroup of prostate cancer with a more aggressive behavior.

Applied immunohistochemistry & molecular morphology : AIMM. 2016 Oct 31 [Epub ahead of print]

Francesco Pierconti, Maurizio Martini, Tonia Cenci, Luigi M Larocca

Institute of Pathological Anatomy, Catholic University of Sacred Heart, Rome, Italy.