Objectives To evaluate the expression of the androgen receptor (AR) in transitional cell carcinoma (TCC) of the bladder, and to assess whether its expression correlated with pathologic tumor stage. TCC of the bladder is three times more common in males than in females. The origin of this sex difference in incidence is unknown. Methods We evaluated tumor specimens from 49 consecutive patients treated for TCC of the bladder at our institution between July 2002 and June 2003. Immunohistochemistry was performed using a monoclonal mouse anti-AR antibody on paraffin-embedded tissue sections of tumors obtained from transurethral resection, radical cystectomy, or resection of metastases. Specimens were assessed for AR expression, and, in tumors that demonstrated AR staining, the percentage of nuclei that stained positive was recorded. Results Of the 49 tumors, 26 (53.1%) expressed the AR. The percentage of tumors that expressed the AR decreased with increasing pathologic stage, from 88.9% of pTa lesions to 0% of pT3 tumors. Overall, 75% of superficial tumors (pTa + pT1 + carcinoma in situ) expressed the AR compared with 21.4% of invasive tumors (pT2 + pT3; P = 0.002). In addition, among AR-expressing tumors, the mean percentage of nuclei that stained positive for the AR was significantly greater in pTa tumors (62.5%) than in pT1 (31%) or pT2 (20%) tumors (P = 0.005). Conclusions We found a decrease in AR protein expression in tumors with increased pathologic stage. Our data suggest that the loss of AR expression is associated with invasive bladder cancer.
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