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PLoS One. 2009 Dec 30;4(12):e8496. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0008496.

Cholesterol homeostasis in two commonly used human prostate cancer cell-lines, LNCaP and PC-3.

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School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.



Recently, there has been renewed interest in the link between cholesterol and prostate cancer. It has been previously reported that in vitro, prostate cancer cells lack sterol-mediated feedback regulation of the major transcription factor in cholesterol homeostasis, sterol-regulatory element binding protein 2 (SREBP-2). This could explain the accumulation of cholesterol observed in clinical prostate cancers. Consequently, perturbed feedback regulation to increased sterol levels has become a pervasive concept in the prostate cancer setting. Here, we aimed to explore this in greater depth.


After altering the cellular cholesterol status in LNCaP and PC-3 prostate cancer cells, we examined SREBP-2 processing, downstream effects on promoter activity and expression of SREBP-2 target genes, and functional activity (low-density lipoprotein uptake, cholesterol synthesis). In doing so, we observed that LNCaP and PC-3 cells were sensitive to increased sterol levels. In contrast, lowering cholesterol levels via statin treatment generated a greater response in LNCaP cells than PC-3 cells. This highlighted an important difference between these cell-lines: basal SREBP-2 activity appeared to be higher in PC-3 cells, reducing sensitivity to decreased cholesterol levels.


Thus, prostate cancer cells are sensitive to changing sterol levels in vitro, but the extent of this regulation differs between prostate cancer cell-lines. These results shed new light on the regulation of cholesterol metabolism in two commonly used prostate cancer cell-lines, and emphasize the importance of establishing whether or not cholesterol homeostasis is perturbed in prostate cancer in vivo.

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