BJU Int. 2007; published online ahead of print


Using an assay they developed to detect antibodies to Propionibacterium acnes bacteria, researchers have found a link between these bacteria and development of inflammation-related prostate diseases.

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The same team previously had isolated P. acnes—the bacterium believed to have a role in the development of acne—from the prostate gland in 35% of patients with prostate cancer and demonstrated a significant positive association between positive P. acnes cultures and prostatic inflammation (J Urol. 2005;173:1969-1974).


The group, led by Ronald J. Cohen, MD, of Uropath Pty Ltd. in Nedlands, Western Australia, developed an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to determine the anti-P. acnes antibody titers in the sera of 68 men undergoing prostate biopsy. In patients with biopsies negative for cancer, a high anti-P. acnes antibody titer was associated with high serum PSA levels (10 ng/mL or higher).


The titer correlated positively with patient age, prostate volume, and aggressive inflammation, suggesting an involvement with BPH. In patients with histologically detected cancer, however, the volume of cancer in the biopsy cores was the predominant independent predictor of serum PSA level.


Dr. Cohen and his colleagues concluded that their ELISA “might be of value in assessing pros-

tate disease, particularly for identifying biopsy-negative patients whose elevated serum PSA level could indicate P. acnes infection of the prostate. These patients could be targeted for antibacterial therapy trials and might be spared further biopsies if their PSA level decreases or stabilizes.”


Study findings also suggest that the assay could be of value in identifying men at risk of developing clinical BPH, the authors observed, adding that antibacterial therapy could be of value in this group as well.