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Endocr Relat Cancer. 2005 Mar;12(1):19-47.

Primary cell cultures as models of prostate cancer development.

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Department of Urology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, USA.


This review focuses on primary cultures of human prostatic epithelial cells and their applications as models of normal and malignant biological behavior. Current abilities to culture cells from normal tissues, from premalignant dysplastic lesions (prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia), from primary adenocarcinomas, and from metastases are described. Evidence for representation of the interrelated cells of the normal prostatic epithelium--stem cells, basal epithelial cells, secretory epithelial cells, transit amplifying cells and neuroendocrine cells--in primary cultures is presented. Comparisons between normal and cancer-derived primary cultures are made regarding biological activities relevant to carcinogenesis, such as proliferation, apoptosis, differentiation, senescence, adhesion, migration, invasion, steroid hormone metabolism, other metabolic pathways and angiogenesis. Analyses of tumor suppressor activity, differential gene expression and cytogenetics in primary cultures have revealed changes relevant to prostate cancer progression. Preclinical studies with primary cultures have provided information useful for designing new strategies for chemoprevention, chemotherapy, cytotoxin therapy, radiation therapy, gene therapy and imaging. While the behavior of normal primary cultures is often used as a basis for comparison with established, immortal prostate cancer cell lines, the most informative studies are performed with donor-matched pairs of normal and malignant primary cultures, grown under identical conditions. Challenges that remain to be addressed if the full potential of primary cultures as a model system is to be realized include isolation, culture and characterization of stem cells, improved methodology to induce or maintain a fully differentiated, androgen-responsive phenotype, and identification of cell surface antigens or other markers with which to purify pure populations of live cancer or premalignant cells apart from non-malignant epithelial cells prior to culture.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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