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Prostate. 2008 Aug 1;68(11):1165-78. doi: 10.1002/pros.20785.

Insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3) in the prostate and in prostate cancer: local production, distribution and secretion pattern indicate a role in stromal-epithelial interaction.

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Department of Urology, Innsbruck Medical University, Innsbruck, Austria.



Insulin-like growth factor binding protein 3 (IGFBP-3) exerts inhibitory and proapoptotic effects on prostate cancer cells. Serum levels of IGFBP-3 were found to be associated with the risk of prostate cancer, but the data are still inconclusive. We present a detailed analysis of the expression and localization of IGFBP-3 in the prostate and a comparison with its expression pattern in tumors.


Expression and localization of IGFBP-3 were analyzed in cellular models and tissue by real-time RT-PCR, ELISA, immunohistochemistry, and immunofluorescence.


All cell types of a panel of benign epithelial, stromal and tumor prostate cells expressed IGFBP-3. Significantly higher expression levels were registered in stromal cells. TGF-beta stimulation boosted IGFBP-3 levels 60-fold in stromal cells. The pattern of expression was confirmed in microdissected tissue samples. Protein levels measured by ELISA paralleled the mRNA levels and more than 80% of IGFBP-3 was secreted. On tissue immunostaining, IGFBP-3 was found to be mainly located in the epithelium. The pattern suggested secretion of IGFBP-3, which was confirmed in prostate tissue cultured ex vivo and the ejaculate of vasectomized men. IGFBP-3 levels were increased in primary tumors but did not differ from benign epithelium in metastases and local recurrent tumors.


We registered a significant local production of IGFBP-3 in the prostate, which may well override the effect of protein entering from blood. The stroma--particularly reactivated stroma--is the main source of IGFBP-3 in the prostate, suggesting that this peptide acts as a mediator of stromal-epithelial interactions.

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