Conversion from a paracrine to an autocrine mechanism of androgen-stimulated growth during malignant transformation of prostatic epithelial cells

Jin Gao, Julia T. Arnold, John T. Isaacs, Jin Gao, John T. Isaacs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

144 Scopus citations


Normal adult prostate epithelium of both human and rat origin was transplanted with Matrigel into intact or androgen-ablated (i.e., castrated) nude mice. Within these transplants, an influx of mouse mesenchymal cells was one of the earliest events to occur resulting in the development of a collar of smooth muscle cells and fibroblasts surrounding the transplanted epithelium. A subset of these surrounding stromal cells express androgen receptor (AR). The surrounded transplanted epithelium initially expresses high molecular weight cytokeratins characteristic of prostatic basal cells and AR. In both intact and androgen-ablated hosts, this epithelium subsequently develops a patent lumen producing a rudimentary glandular acini. Only in the nonablated hosts, however, do these rudimentary acini undergo a further proliferative growth phase, as determined by Ki67 immunocytochemical stainings and the development of a low molecular weight cytokeratin positive layer of luminal (ie., secretory) epithelial cells. Because AR is expressed in both the donor epithelium and host (i.e., mouse) stromal cells, this androgen-stimulated growth response could involve either autocrine pathways initiated within donor normal adult epithelial cells themselves or paracrine pathways initiated within the AR-expressing subset of mouse stromal cells. To resolve this issue, mice carrying the testicular feminized mutation in the X-linked AR gene were cross-bred to AR-wt nude mice to produce AR-null nude male mice. None of the cells in these AR-null nude male mice express functional AR protein. Therefore, these animals can be used to prevent any possibility of host stromal cell paracrine involvement in initiating an androgen-stimulated growth response when normal adult or malignant prostatic epithelial cells are transplanted into these null hosts. In these AR-null nude male mice, the androgen-stimulated growth of normal adult prostatic epithelial cells did not occur (i.e., androgen-induced growth response of normal prostatic epithelial cells requires stromal cell paracrine involvement). In contrast, using four different prostatic cancer models (i.e., human PC-82, human LNCaP, human LAPC-4, and rat R3327G), the androgen-stimulated growth of prostatic cancer cells occurred identically in both AR-null and AR-wt nude male mice (i.e., a direct autocrine mechanism is responsible for androgen-stimulated growth of malignant prostatic epithelial cells). In summary, a fundamental change in the mechanism for androgen-stimulated growth occurs during the transformation from normal to malignant prostatic epithelial cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5038-5044
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Research
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 1 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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