Persistent uroplakin expression in advanced urothelial carcinomas: implications in urothelial tumor progression and clinical outcome

Hong Ying Huang, Shahrokh F. Shariat, Tung Tien Sun, Herbert Lepor, Ellen Shapiro, Jer Tsong Hsieh, Raheela Ashfaq, Yair Lotan, Xue Ru Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


As the terminal differentiation products of human urothelium, uroplakins (UPs) would be expected to diminish during urothelial tumorigenesis. Surprisingly, recent studies found UPs to be retained even by well-advanced urothelial carcinomas, suggesting that the loss of UPs does not strictly parallel urothelial transformation. Little is known, however, about whether the status of UPs is associated with a particular pathologic parameter, the tumor's biological behavior, or patient outcome. Here we assessed UP expression by immunohistochemistry on tissue arrays from 285 patients with bladder urothelial carcinomas or nontumor conditions. UPs were expressed in all 9 normal urothelial specimens, 63 of 74 (85%) patients with non-muscle-invasive urothelial carcinomas on transurethral resection, 104 of 202 (51.5%) patients who underwent radical cystectomy for advanced urothelial carcinomas, and 33 of 50 (66%) lymph node metastases. Normally associated with urothelial apical surface, UPs were localized aberrantly in tumors, including microluminal, basal-laminal, cytoplasmic, or uniform patterns. In non-muscle-invasive diseases, there was no association between UP expression and disease recurrence, progression, or mortality. In contrast, in invasive diseases, absent UP expression was significantly associated with advanced pathologic stage, lymph node metastases, disease recurrence, and bladder cancer-specific mortality (P = .042, P = .035, P = .023, and P = .022, respectively) in univariate analyses. Furthermore, UP status was independent of key cell-cycle regulators, including p53, pRb, p27, and cyclin D1, thus excluding a functional link between these 2 groups of proteins. Our data demonstrate for the first time that persistent UP expression is associated with a favorable clinical outcome and that UPs may be used as adjunct markers for predicting the prognoses of patients with invasive and metastatic bladder carcinomas. Our results also suggest that UP-positive and -negative carcinomas have different clonal origins or may be derived from different cancer stem cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1703-1713
Number of pages11
JournalHuman Pathology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Bladder cancer
  • Prognosis
  • Progression
  • Transitional cell carcinoma
  • Uroplakin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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