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Cancer Res. 1998 Aug 1;58(15):3466-79.

Extended survivability of prostate cancer cells in the absence of trophic factors: increased proliferation, evasion of apoptosis, and the role of apoptosis proteins.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan 48202, USA.

Erratum in

  • Cancer Res 1998 Nov 15;58(22):5260.


This project was undertaken to study the survival properties of various prostate cells, including normal (NHP), BPH (benign prostate hyperplasia), primary carcinoma (PCA), and metastatic prostate cancer cells (LNCaP, PC3, and Du145), in the absence of trophic factors. Cell proliferation and cell death were quantitated by enumerating the number of live cells using MTS/PMS kit and of dead (apoptotic) cells using 4',6-diamidino-2-phenylindole dihydrochloride nuclear staining. These cells demonstrated an overall survivability in the order of BPH < NHP < LNCaP < PC3 < PCA < Du145. Upon growth factor deprivation, NHP/BPH cells rapidly underwent apoptosis, leading to a decreased number of live cells. PCA/PC3/Du145 cells, in contrast, demonstrated an initial phase of aggressive growth during which apoptosis rarely occurred, followed by a "plateau" phase in which cell loss by apoptosis was compensated by cell proliferation, followed by a later phase in which apoptosis exceeded the cell proliferation. LNCaP cells demonstrated survival characteristics between those of NHP/BPH and PCA/PC3/Du145 cells. We concluded that the increased survivability in prostate cancer cells results from enhanced cell proliferation as well as decreased apoptosis. The molecular mechanisms for evasion of apoptosis in prostate cancer cells were subsequently investigated. Quantitative Western blotting was used to examine the protein expression of P53 and P21WAF-1, Bcl-2 and Bcl-X(L) (anti-apoptotic proteins), and Bax, Bak, and Bad (proapoptotic proteins). The results revealed that, upon trophic factor withdrawal, NHP and BPH cells upregulated wild-type p53 and proapoptotic proteins Bax/Bad/Bak and down-regulated the expression of P21. Furthermore, NHP and BPH cells endogenously expressed little or no Bcl-2. In sharp contrast, prostate cancer cells expressed nonfunctional P53 and various amounts of Bcl-2 proteins. Upon deprivation, these cancer cells up-regulated P21 and Bcl-2 and/or BclX(L), lost response to withdrawal-induced up-regulation of Bax/Bad/Bak or decreased or even completely lost Bax expression and expressed some novel proteins such as P25 and P54/55 complex. These data together suggest that prostate cancer cells may use multiple molecular mechanisms to evade apoptosis, which, together with increased proliferation, contribute to extended survivability of prostate cancer cells in the absence trophic factors.

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