BACKGROUNDOver-diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer has been a major problem in prostate cancer care and management. Currently the most relevant prognostic factor to predict a patient's risk of death due to prostate cancer is the Gleason score of the biopsied tissue samples. However, pathological analysis is subjective, and the Gleason score is only a qualitative estimate of the cancer malignancy. Molecular biomarkers and diagnostic tests that can accurately predict prostate tumor aggressiveness are rather limited.METHODWe report here for the first time the development of a nanoparticle test that not only can distinguish prostate cancer from normal and benign conditions, but also has the potential to predict the aggressiveness of prostate cancer quantitatively. To conduct the test, a prostate tissue lysate sample is spiked into a blood serum or human IgG solution and the spiked sample is incubated with a citrate-protected gold nanoparticle solution. IgG is known to adsorb to citrate-protected gold nanoparticles to form a "protein corona" on the nanoparticle surface. From this study, we discovered that certain tumor-specific molecules can interact with IgG and change the adsorption behavior of IgG to the gold nanoparticles. This change is reflected in the nanoparticle size of the assay solution and detected by a dynamic light scattering technique. Assay data were analyzed by one-way ANOVA for multiple variant analysis, and using the Student t-test or nonparametric Mann-Whitney U-tests for pairwise analyses.RESULTSAn inverse, quantitative correlation of the average nanoparticle size of the assay solution with tumor status and histological diagnostic grading was observed from the nanoparticle test. IgG solutions spiked with prostate tumor tissue exhibit significantly smaller nanoparticle size than the solutions spiked with normal and benign tissues. The higher grade the tumor is, the smaller the nanoparticle size is. The test particularly revealed large differences among the intermediate Grade 2 tumors, and suggested the need to treat them differently.CONCLUSIONDevelopment of a new nanoparticle test may provide a quantitative measure of the prostate cancer aggressiveness. If validated in a larger study of patients with prostate cancer, this test could become a new diagnostic tool in conjunction with Gleason Score pathology diagnostics to better distinguish aggressive cancer from indolent tumor.