Prostate cancer stem cells: potential new biomarkers

  • Benjamin Sharpe

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Prostate cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related death in men, and while many men diagnosed with the disease will have an indolent clinical course, 20-25% of men will experience disease recurrence which is invariably lethal. There is an urgent need for prognostic biomarkers that will predict disease recurrence and risk-stratify patients upon diagnosis, allowing for personalised therapies. This thesis attempts to identify new prognostic biomarkers for prostate cancer and investigates their patterns of protein expression in human primary prostate tumour tissue.Cancer stem cells are cancer cells thought to be uniquely capable of self-renewal and tumorigenicity, and may have a role in tumour recurrence. Using a literature searching approach, potential biomarkers related to stem cells, cancer stem cells or recurrence in prostate cancer were identified, and ALDH7A1, BMI1, SDC1, MUC1-C, Nestin and ZSCAN4 were chosen for investigation. An in silico approach was also used for biomarker identification, with RS1 and SLC31A1 selected as their mRNA was found to be upregulated in recurrent tumours. The expression patterns of all 7 potential biomarkers were examined by immunohistochemistry on prostate tumour tissue and benign tissue from prostate biopsies and prostatectomies. BMI1, ALDH7A1, MUC1-C and Nestin showed no relationship to recurrence or other clinical features. RS1 protein levels increased in patients with recurrence within 5 years, negatively correlated with AR expression, and a meta-analysis showed that the RS1 gene was amplified in up to 32% of castration-resistant prostate tumours. ZSCAN4 was heterogeneously expressed in a subset of 26% of prostate tumours with unclear characteristics and was not expressed in benign tissue, but was not associated with recurrence. Finally, SDC1 expression was lost in tumour epithelium, but a population of unidentified SDC1-expressing cells were found in the stroma of a third of tumours, and an increased burden of these cells was associated with primary Gleason pattern 5 tumours. These cells do not overlap with common epithelial, mesenchymal or stromal lineages, but may be migratory. In summary, the data presented in this thesis identifies 3 potential new biomarkers for prostate cancer, and provides the basis for future characterisation of their wider roles in the disease.
Date of Award23 Nov 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorAndrew Chalmers (Supervisor), Mark Beresford (Supervisor), Rebecca Bowen (Supervisor) & John Mitchard (Supervisor)


  • Prostate
  • Cancer
  • stem cell
  • Biomarker
  • Relapse
  • Immunohistochemistry

Cite this