BACKGROUND: Serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is the most widely used marker for diagnosing prostate cancer (PCa). It lacks specificity and predictive value, resulting in inaccurate diagnoses and overtreatment of the disease. The aim of this study was to assess the usefulness of plasma telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) mRNA as a diagnostic and prognostic tool for PCa and its association with clinicopathological parameters of tumors.<br /><br />PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Plasma hTERT mRNA levels were determined by qRT-PCR in 105 consecutive patients with elevated PSA levels and in 68 healthy volunteers. The diagnostic accuracy, the efficacy as a prognostic factor of biochemical recurrence and the association with tumor clinicopathological parameters of plasma hTERT mRNA and serum PSA tests were determined using univariate and multivariate analyses. The results show that plasma hTERT mRNA is a non-invasive biomarker for PCa diagnosis that shows higher sensitivity (85% vs. 83%), specificity (90% vs. 47%), positive predictive value (83% vs. 56%), and negative predictive value (92% vs. 77%) than serum PSA. Plasma hTERT mRNA is significantly associated with poor prognosis tumor clinicopathological parameters and is a significant independent predictor of PCa (p<0.0001). Univariate analysis identified plasma hTERT mRNA (but not serum PSA) as a significant prognostic factor of biochemical recurrence. Plasma hTERT mRNA Kaplan-Meier curves confirmed the significant differences between groups and patients with higher levels than the cut-off value showed diminished recurrence-free survival (p=0.004), whereas no differences were observed with serum PSA (p=0.38). Multivariate analysis indicated that plasma hTERT mRNA (but not serum PSA) and stage were significantly associated with biochemical recurrence.<br /><br />CONCLUSIONS: Overall, these findings indicate that hTERT mRNA is a useful non-invasive tumor marker for the molecular diagnosis of PCa, affording a greater diagnostic and prognostic accuracy than the PSA assay and may be of relevance in the follow-up of the disease.
March-Villalba, J. A., Martínez-Jabaloyas, J. M., Herrero, M. J., Santamaria, J., Aliño, S. F., & Dasí, F. (2012). Cell-free circulating plasma hTERT mRNA is a useful marker for prostate cancer diagnosis and is associated with poor prognosis tumor characteristics. PLoS ONE, 7(8). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0043470