Prostate cancer is among the most common malignancies. It is estimated that 1 in 6 men in the United States will be diagnosed with this disease. Despite the high prevalence and importance of prostate cancer, the molecular mechanisms underlying its development and progression remain poorly understood. This article reviews new information about the roles of oxidants and electrophiles in prostate cancer; the potential importance of chronic inflammation and atrophy in prostate carcinogenesis, and implications for chemoprevention; evidence supporting telomere shortening and genetic instability in the etiology of prostate cancer; and α-methylacyl-coenzyme A racemase (AMACR) as a potential marker for prostate carcinogenesis. These new results show that at least some high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasias (PIN) and early adenocarcinomas appear to arise from proliferative inflammatory atrophy (PIA). Inflammation and other environmental factors may lead to the destruction of prostate epithelial cells, and increased proliferation may occur as a response to this cell death. Such proliferation may be mechanistically related to decreased p27Kip1 observed in PIA. The decreased apoptosis associated with these events may also be related to increased expression of Bcl-2. Increased oxidant and electrophile stress in the setting of increased proliferation associated with these events may lead to elevated glutathione S-transferase P1 (GSTP1) expression as a genomic-protective measure. However, aberrant methylation of the CpG island of the GSTP1 gene promoter silences GSTP1 gene expression and protein levels, setting the stage for additional genetic damage and accelerated progression toward PIN and carcinoma. Additional results show that AMACR may be an important new marker of prostate cancer, and its use in combination with p63 staining may provide the basis for an improved method for identification of prostate cancer.
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