The female prostate and prostate-specific antigen. lmmunohistochemical localization, implications of this prostate marker in women and reasons for using the term "prostate" in the human female


  • Milan Zaviacic
  • R. J. Ablin


prostate-specific antigen (PSA), female prostate, skene's gland, male prostate, immunohistochemistry, serology, female PSA implications, male PSA implications, terminology


Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is currently the most frequently used marker for the identification of normal and pathologically altered prostatic tissue in the male and female. Immunohistochemically PSA is expressed in the highly specialized apically-superficial layer of female and male secretory cells of the prostate gland, as well as in uroepithelial cells at other sites of the urogenital tract of both sexes. Unique active moieties of cells of the female and the male prostate gland and in other parts of the urogenital tract are indicative of secretory and protective function of specialized prostatic and uroepithelial cells with strong immunological properties given by the presence of PSA. In clinical practice, PSA is a valuable marker for the diagnosis and monitoring of diseases of the male and the female prostate, especially carcinoma. In the female, similarly as in the male, the prostate (Skene's gland) is the principal source of PSA. The value of PSA in women increases in the pathological female prostate, e.g., carcinoma. Nevertheless, the total amount of PSA in the female is the sum of normal or pathological female prostate and non-prostatic female tissues production, e.g., of diseased female breast tissue. The expression of an antigen specific for the male prostate, i.e., PSA in female Skene's glands and ducts, and structural and functional parameters and diseases similar to that of the male prostate, have provided convincing evidence of the existence of a prostate in women and definitive preference of the term "prostate" over that of Skene's glands and ducts. The use of the term Skene's glands incorrectly implies that some other structure rather than prostate is involved, promoting the vestigial position of this female organ.




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