What is PSMA?

The abbreviation PSMA stands for prostate specific membrane antigen. This is a protein found in the membrane of prostate cancer cells. PSMA may also be referred to as folate hydrolase I or glutamate carboxypeptidase II. In about 95% of cases, the prostate cancer cells express PSMA.

As the disease progresses and the cancer cells become more aggressive, PSMA will also become more abundant in the cell membrane.

An abundance of PSMA in the cell walls in prostate cancer can affect the formation of new blood vessels within the tumor (angiogenesis) while also increasing the folic acid metabolism, leading to increased cell division (proliferation).

Although the name suggests that the protein is found only in prostate cancer, this is not the case. PSMA also occurs in other tissues such as: salivary glands, lacrimal glands, kidneys, small intestine, nerve nodes, liver, and spleen. There are also other types of tumors that express PSMA in the cell membrane. This is particularly noticeable in tumors that show increased angiogenesis.