Function and molecular mechanisms of neuroendocrine cells in prostate cancer

Jiaoti Huang, Chengyu Wu, P. Anthony Di Sant'Agnese, Jorge L. Yao, Liang Cheng, Yanqun Na

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

31 Scopus citations


Benign prostate contains luminal epithelial cells, basal cells and a minor component of neuroendocrine cells whose function may be to regulate the growth, differentiation and secretory function of the prostate gland. Neuroendocrine (NE) cells are also present in prostate cancer (PC), and many studies have shown that their number increases in high-grade and high-stage tumors, particularly in hormonally treated and hormone-refractory (androgen independent) PC. Unlike the non-neuroendocrine secretory-type PC cells, NE cells lack androgen receptor and are likely androgen independent. Therefore it is conceivable that hormonal therapy for advanced or metastatic prostate cancer, which consists of inhibiting androgen production or blocking androgen function, will not eliminate NE cancer cells. Instead, these cells may be enriched after the therapy and they may establish paracrine networks to stimulate androgen-independent proliferation of PC, leading to tumor recurrence. This article reviews the major functions of NE cells in PC, including stimulation of cancer proliferation and invasion, apoptosis resistance and angiogenesis. It also discusses molecular pathways involved in NE differentiation and the effectors of the NE cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)128-138
Number of pages11
JournalAnalytical and Quantitative Cytology and Histology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2007


  • Androgen independence
  • Hormonal therapy
  • Neuroendocrine differentiation
  • Prostate cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology
  • Cell Biology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Function and molecular mechanisms of neuroendocrine cells in prostate cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this