Nuclear overexpression of p53 protein in transitional cell bladder carcinoma: a marker for disease progression
BACKGROUND: Approximately one third of the patients with superficially infiltrative transitional cell (T1-TNM pathological staging system) bladder carcinoma who are treated with transurethral resection alone have disease progression. Despite precise pathologic staging and grading, clinical outcome in these patients is not predictable. Recent reports reveal that mutations of the p53 tumor suppressor gene (also known as TP53) occur commonly in bladder cancers.
PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to investigate the hypothesis that altered patterns of expression of the protein product(s) of the mutated p53 tumor suppressor gene are associated with tumor progression in patients with T1 bladder cancer.
METHODS: We examined deparaffinized tumor tissue specimens from transurethral resection in 43 patients with T1 bladder cancer who had not received adjuvant therapy. Nuclear overexpression of p53 protein was detected by immunohistochemical analysis using the mouse monoclonal antibody PAb1801, which stains both wild-type and mutant p53 proteins. The data were then correlated with the following conventional prognostic variables: age, sex, histologic presence of associated carcinoma in situ, and vascular invasion of tumor. Disease progression rates per 100 person-years were calculated.
RESULTS: Median follow-up was 119 months. None of the urothelial and stromal cells from normal bladder specimens showed nuclear overexpression of p53 protein, but patients with T1 bladder tumors could be stratified into two groups with different patterns of staining for p53 protein. Eighteen patients (42%) had no more than 20% tumor cells with positive nuclear staining (group A), while the remaining 25 patients (58%) had 20% or more tumor cells with nuclear immunoreactivity (group B). Patients in group B had a significantly lower progression-free interval (P < .001). Disease progression rates were 20.5% per year for group B and 2.5% for group A.
CONCLUSION: These results suggest that T1 bladder cancers exhibiting nuclear overexpression of p53 protein have a higher probability of disease progression. This study also suggests that p53 overexpression is an important prognostic factor in these patients and may be useful in selecting appropriate therapy.
IMPLICATIONS: Large prospective studies are needed to confirm these results and to evaluate nuclear overexpression of p53 protein as a prognostic marker in bladder cancer.