To examine the excretion of urinary epidermal growth factor (EGF) in urological diseases and the relationship of EGF urine levels with transitional cell carcinoma (TCC), we measured the concentration of EGF by radioimmunoassay. The series comprised patients with active TCC (n=50), others in tumor-free status (n=29) and with non-neoplastic inflammatory diseases (n=43), and normal controls (n=50). Urinary EGF values were lower in patients with urological diseases of different etiologies than in normal controls (P<0.005). Mean EGF levels of patients who had previous bladder tumor resection (n=21) were not statistically different from normal controls (P=0.2). For patients with active TCC, EGF urine levels showed a significant inverse relationship to increasing tumor grade (P=0.02). In addition, subjects who had received nephrectomy for pelvic carcinoma (n=8) showed significantly lower mean EGF values than those with intact kidneys (n=21), irrespective of sex (P<0.05). Immunostaining of EGF on non-neoplastic kidney (n=9) revealed reactivity in the distal convoluted tubules and thick ascending limbs of Henle. Our results suggest that the kidney is the major source of urinary EGF. Its excretion in urine is decreased in both inflammatory and neoplastic diseases of the urinary tract. EGF may play an important part in the biological activity of TCC. Further study is indicated to investigate the monitoring of EGF urine levels as a marker of recurrence for EGF receptor-positive TCC.
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