Serum Prostate Specific Antigen Levels in Mice Bearing Human Prostate LNCaP Tumors Are Determined by Tumor Volume and Endocrine and Growth Factors

Martin E. Gleave, Jer Tsong Hsieh, Hsi Chin Wu, Andrew C. Von Eschenbach, Leland W K Chung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

229 Scopus citations


The ability of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) to predict tumor volume and stage in patients with prostate cancer would be improved if factors regulating its production and clearance were better defined. A thorough understanding of the pharmacokinetics (regulation of production, metabolism, and excretion) of PSA has been precluded, however, by the absence of an in vivo animal model. The purposes of this study are to develop a murine model for evaluating PSA pharmacokinetics in vivo and to assess factors that influence PSA production in vitro. The human prostate cancer cell line, LNCaP, was chosen because it is androgen sensitive and PSA positive. Although LNCaP cells are usually nontumorigenic when inoculated s.c. in athymk mice, coinoculation of 1 x 10 LNCaP cells with 1 x 10 human bone fibroblasts reliably produces PSA-secreting carcinomas. This LNCaP model provides accurate correlation between tumor volume and serum PSA levels (r = 0.94) and demonstrates that tumor volume and androgens are codeterminants of circulating PSA levels. Following castration, serum PSA levels decrease rapidly up to 8fold and increase up to 20-fold following androgen supplementation, without detectable castration-induced tumor cell death or concomitant changes in tumor volume. Serum PSA levels increase 0.24 ng/ml/mm3 of tumor, which is approximately 5-fold less than that estimated for humans. Most likely this reduced PSA index (PSArtumor volume ratio) results from a 7-fold faster clearance of PSA in athymic mice than in humans; other than this shorter half-life, PSA elimination in the murine model appears similar to that in humans, with both following first-order kinetics characteristic of a two-compartment model. Interestingly, following prolonged growth (>21 days) in castrate hosts, LNCaP tumors are capable of adapting to an androgen-deprived environment whereby LNCaP tumors regain the ablility to secrete PSA in amounts similar to the precastrate state. In LNCaP cells, androgens increase PSA mRNA levels 4-fold in vivo and in vitro. PSA mRNA expression is also altered by various growth factors. Changes in PSA production induced by androgens and growth factors do not always parallel changes in LNCaP cell growth rate induced by these factors, suggesting that PSA production occurs independently of cell growth rate and may be influenced by various interrelated factors, including hormonal and stromal milieu. Observations from this murine model suggest that androgens and tumor volume are independent determinants of serum PSA levels and imply that decreases in circulating PSA following antiandrogen therapy may not always reflect a corresponding reduction in tumor volume.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1598-1605
Number of pages8
JournalCancer research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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