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Br J Cancer. 2009 Dec 15;101(12):1949-56. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6605376. Epub 2009 Nov 3.

Epidermal growth factor receptor expression escapes androgen regulation in prostate cancer: a potential molecular switch for tumour growth.

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Department of Biochemistry and Urology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02118, USA.


Androgen deprivation therapy reduces prostate cancer (PCa) tumour growth; however, disease relapse often ensues independently of androgen stimulation, producing androgen-refractory tumours with increased invasion, proliferation, and malignancy. Androgens downregulate epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) in normal prostate but not in PCa. Thus, loss of EGFR regulation and altered signalling may, in part, explain the transition of prostate tumours from androgen dependent to androgen independent. Studies in animal models, PCa cell lines, and tumour specimens suggest that androgens modulate prostate growth and function through mechanisms that involve 'cross-talk' between androgen receptor (AR) and growth factor receptor signalling pathways. The objective of this review is to discuss the paradoxical relationship between androgen regulation of EGFR in normal prostate and PCa. We reviewed the literature from mid-1980s through 2009 to assess the relationship between androgens and EGFR function in modulating the growth of normal prostate and PCa. Loss of androgen regulation of EGFR in PCa may be responsible for increased tumour growth, invasion, and metastasis, with important implications on the clinical management of PCa. We advance the hypothesis that a molecular switch, responsible for downregulating EGFR expression by androgens in the normal prostate, is either lost or modified in PCa.

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