Expression of p53 in urothelial cell cultures from tumour-bearing and tumour-free patients
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An explant culture technique was used to culture normal urothelium from patients with muscle-invasive bladder cancer (transitional cell carcinoma, TCC) (n = 11) and from non-tumour-bearing patients (n = 60). Cell cultures were examined for expression of p53 using the monoclonal antibody p53-240. There was a statistically significant increase in p53 expression in normal urothelial cell cultures from patients with TCC (P < 0.0005). Normal urothelial cultures from patients with TCC also showed more rapid proliferation in vitro when compared with non-tumour-bearing patients (P < 0.0005). A subgroup of non-tumour-bearing patients (n = 14) showed > 5% of cells expressing p53. p53 expression in this subgroup was found to correlate with cell proliferation in vitro (r2 = 0.766). None of these urothelial specimens was observed to express p53 when paraffin-embedded preparations were stained with p53-D07 antibody prior to culture. The rate of cellular proliferation in this subgroup did not differ from that of normal urothelium from TCC patients. Twenty-two paraffin-embedded, muscle-invasive TCC specimens were also evaluated for p53 expression using p53-D07. The expression of p53 in these tumours did not differ from that observed in normal urothelial cell cultures from patients with TCC (P = 0.26). This study identifies an overexpression of p53 in normal urothelial cells from patients with TCC and in proliferating cultures from a significant subgroup of patients without malignant disease. Increased p53 expression in normal cultured urothelial cells from patients with bladder cancer implies a global change in the mechanisms controlling urothelial cell division. This may represent an early step in the pathway to carcinogenesis.
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