Nanobacteria may be present in prostate disease

September 1, 2006

Atlanta-Are nanobacteria involved in prostate disease? That question hasn't been settled, but evidence of these controversial organisms has been found in the prostates and serum of men with prostatic inflammation.

Atlanta-Are nanobacteria involved in prostate disease? That question hasn't been settled, but evidence of these controversial organisms has been found in the prostates and serum of men with prostatic inflammation.

Flight surgeon Jeffrey Jones, MD, head of exploration medical operations at NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, who presented the prostate research here at the AUA annual meeting, is convinced that nanobacteria do exist as living organisms of some kind because they have been isolated in laboratories internationally and in extreme environments. Dr. Jones is confident that research shows that these organisms are culturable, produce biomass, are immunogenic, appear to have nucleic acid, and can be metabolically labeled.

The organisms' production of apatite may, in fact, be their principal means of producing human disease if they are indeed pathogenic, said Dr. Jones, who is also adjunct associate professor of urology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, but "pathogencity of nanobacteria has yet to be proven."

These organisms have been linked to stone disease and atherosclerosis. More recently, prostate diseases, such as chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS) and BPH, have been added to the list.

Calcium apatite stones, or corpora amylacea, do occur in the prostate, and therapy directed at dissolving the stones and treating infection reduced pain scores markedly and urinary symptoms moderately in a small group of CP/CPPS patients who had them (J Urol 2005; 173:474-7). But these stones also occur more frequently in men undergoing transurethral resection of the prostate for lower urinary tract symptoms than they do in healthy men, and researchers have speculated that these corpora amylacea and nanobacteria may be associated with chronic prostate inflammation.

In the study presented here, Dr. Jones and colleagues looked for nanobacteria-specific antigens and antibodies in the serum and prostate tissue of patients with prostate inflammation. Researchers detected them in both serum and tissue, but finding them in prostate tissue first required decalcification with 1% EDTA.

The investigators used an enzyme-linked immunoabsorbent as-say with monoclonal antibodies 5/3 and 8D10 to test for nanobacterial antigens in 40 patients with Crohn's disease, 40 patients with a pathologic diagnosis of "prostatitis" (presumed associated with clinical BPH), and 40 patients with a pathologic diagnosis of adenocarcinoma. They compared these results with those from the serum of 940 self-reported healthy Finnish men.

Positive readings

Mean (± standard deviation) and median concentrations of nanobacterial antigens (U/50 μL) were significantly higher in men with prostatitis (379.59 [±219.28] and 640.00, respectively) than in men with prostate cancer (3.31 [±3.55] and 2.94), Crohn's disease (1.88 [±2.94] and 0.80), or men without clinical prostate disease (7.43 [±25.57] and 0.00). Unpaired t-tests found statistically significant differences (p<.005) between sera of men with BPH and each of the other groups, but no significant differences were seen among the other groups.

Preliminary immunohistochemical assays and 3-D confocal microscopy found 16 of 24 tissue sections positive for nanobacterial antigen in BPH. Only two of 22 tissue sections read positive in prostate cancer.