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J Endocrinol. 2008 Jun;197(3):483-91. doi: 10.1677/JOE-07-0470.

Oestrogen and benign prostatic hyperplasia: effects on stromal cell proliferation and local formation from androgen.

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Prostate Research Group, University of Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre, Western General Hospital, 4th floor MRC Human Genetics Building, Crewe Road South, Edinburgh EH4 2XU, UK.


Oestrogens have been implicated as a cause of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Previous animal studies led to the hypothesis that oestrogens can stimulate prostate growth, resulting in hyperplasia of the gland. In humans, the precise role of oestrogens in BPH pathogenesis is currently unclear. We investigated the direct effects of oestradiol on the proliferation of BPH-derived prostate cells in culture. Oestradiol (10(-7) and 10(-6) M) moderately increased the proliferation of stromal cells in culture; this stimulation was antagonised by anti-oestrogen ICI 182 780, indicating an oestrogen receptor (ER)-mediated mechanism. By contrast, oestradiol had no effects on the proliferation of epithelial cells in culture. Parameters that can determine the response of stromal cells to oestrogens, including expression of the two ER subtypes and aromatase activity, were investigated. ER beta expression in stromal cells in culture was demonstrated by immunohistochemistry and western blot analysis, and was confirmed by semi-quantitative RT-PCR showing higher expression of ER beta than ER alpha mRNA in stromal cells. Aromatase, the enzyme that converts androgen precursors to oestrogens, was also examined. Aromatase mRNA and activity were detected in stromal, but not epithelial cells in culture, suggesting a mechanism whereby oestrogen concentrations can be regulated in the BPH stroma. Taken together, these findings support the hypothesis that oestrogens play a role in the pathogenesis of BPH, a disease characterised predominantly by stromal overgrowth.

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