Small cell neuroendocrine carcinoma (SCNC) of the prostate is a variant form of prostate cancer that occurs de novo or as a recurrent tumor in patients who received hormonal therapy for prostatic adenocarcinoma. It is composed of pure neuroendocrine (NE) tumor cells, but unlike the scattered NE cells in benign prostate and adenocarcinoma that are quiescent, the NE cells in SCNC are highly proliferative and aggressive, causing death in months. In this study, we provide evidence that interleukin 8 (IL8)-CXCR2-P53 (TP53) signaling pathway keeps the NE cells of benign prostate and adenocarcinoma in a quiescent state normally. While P53 appears to be wildtype in the NE cells of benign prostate and adenocarcinoma, immunohistochemical studies show that the majority of the NE tumor cells in SCNC are positive for nuclear p53, suggesting that the p53 is mutated. This observation is confirmed by sequencing of genomic DNA showing p53 mutation in five of seven cases of SCNC. Our results support the hypothesis that p53 mutation leads to inactivation of the IL8-CXCR2-p53 signaling pathway, resulting in the loss of an important growth inhibitory mechanism and the hyper-proliferation of NE cells in SCNC. Therefore, we have identified potential cells of origin and a molecular target for prostatic SCNC that are very different from those of conventional adenocarcinoma, which explains SCNC's distinct biology and the clinical observation that it does not respond to hormonal therapy targeting androgen receptor signaling, which produces short-term therapeutic effects in nearly all patients with prostatic adenocarcinoma.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Cancer Research