Neuroendocrine (NE) cells represent a minor cell population in the epithelial compartment of normal prostate glands and may play a role in regulating the growth and differentiation of normal prostate epithelia. In prostate tumor lesions, the population of NE-like cells, i.e., cells exhibiting NE phenotypes and expressing NE markers, is increased that correlates with tumor progression, poor prognosis, and the androgen-independent state. However, the origin of those NE-like cells in prostate cancer (PCa) lesions and the underlying molecular mechanism of enrichment remain an enigma. In this review, we focus on discussing the distinction between NE-like PCa and normal NE cells, the potential origin of NE-like PCa cells, and in vitro and in vivo studies related to the molecular mechanism of NE transdifferentiation of PCa cells. The data together suggest that PCa cells undergo a transdifferentiation process to become NE-like cells, which acquire the NE phenotype and express NE markers. Thus, we propose that those NE-like cells in PCa lesions were originated from cancerous epithelial cells, but not from normal NE cells, and should be defined as 'NE-like PCa cells'. We further describe the biochemical properties of newly established, stable NE-like lymph node carcinoma of the prostate (LNCaP) cell lines, transdifferentiated from androgen-sensitive LNCaP cells under androgen-deprived conditions. Knowledge of understanding NE-like PCa cells will help us to explore new therapeutic strategies for treating PCa.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Cancer Research