UMMS Affiliation

Department of Surgery, Division of Urology

Publication Date


Document Type



Cell Culture Techniques; Cell Division; Cells, Cultured; Diethylstilbestrol; Dose-Response Relationship, Drug; Estradiol; Estrogen Antagonists; Estrogen Receptor alpha; Estrogen Receptor beta; Estrogens, Non-Steroidal; Humans; Male; Methylation; Oligonucleotides, Antisense; Prostate; Prostatic Neoplasms; Protein Biosynthesis; *Proteins; RNA; Receptors, Androgen; Receptors, Estrogen; Receptors, Progesterone; Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction; Signal Transduction; Tamoxifen; Tumor Cells, Cultured; Tumor Suppressor Proteins


Medical Cell Biology | Oncology | Surgery | Urology


The aim of the current study is to demonstrate normal and malignant prostatic epithelial cells (PrECs) as targets for receptor-mediated estrogenic and antiestrogenic action. Using an improved protocol, we have successfully isolated and maintained highly enriched populations of normal PrECs from ultrasound-guided peripheral zone biopsies, individually determined to be morphologically normal. Semiquantitative reverse transcription-PCR analyses were used to determine whether transcripts of estrogen receptor (ER)-alpha and those of ER-beta were expressed in our normal PrEC primary cultures, in a commercially available PrEC preparation (PrEC; Clontech), in an immortalized PrEC line established from a benign prostatic hyperplasia specimen (BPH-1), and in three prostatic cancer cell lines (LNCaP, PC-3, and DU145). Expression levels of ER-alpha and ER-beta transcripts were related to those of two estrogen-responsive genes [progesterone receptor (PR) and pS2], at the message levels, to gain insights into the functionality of the ER subtypes in PrECs. Interestingly, only transcripts of ER-beta, but not those of ER-alpha, were found in our primary cultures of normal PrECs, along with both PR and pS2 mRNA. These data strongly suggest that estrogen action was signaled exclusively via ER-beta in normal human PrECs. In contrast, PrEC (Clontech) and BPH-1 cells expressed both ER-alpha and ER-beta transcripts and no PR nor pS2 mRNA in PrEC and only a minimal level of PR mRNA in BPH-1. Among the three prostate cancer cell lines, LNCaP expressed ER-beta mRNA along with transcripts of PR and pS2, DU145 expressed messages of ER-beta and PR, and PC-3 cells exhibited ER-alpha, ER-beta, and pS2 mRNA. Thus, unlike normal PrECs, expression patterns of these genes in malignant PrECs are more variable. Treatment of prostate cancer cells with demethylation agents effectively reactivated the expression of ER-alpha mRNA in LNCaP and DU145 and that of pS2 message in DU145. These findings provide experimental evidence that ER-alpha gene silencing in prostate cancer cells, and perhaps also in normal PrECs, are caused by DNA hypermethylation. To evaluate the potential of using antiestrogens as prostate cancer therapies, we have assessed the growth-inhibitory action of estrogens (estradiol and diethylstilbestrol) and antiestrogens (4-hydroxy-tamoxifen and ICI-182,780) on PC-3 and DU-145 cells. In PC-3 cells, which express both ER subtypes, estrogens as well as antiestrogens are effective inhibitors. In contrast, in DU145 cells, which express only ER-beta, antiestrogens, but not estrogens, are growth inhibitors. By comparison, ICI 182,780 is the more effective cell growth inhibitor. Importantly, the ICI 182,780-induced antiproliferative effects were reversed by cotreatment of DU145 cells with an ER-beta antisense oligonucleotide, hence lending additional support to a central role played by ER-beta in mediating growth-inhibitory action of antiestrogens.


Cancer Res. 2000 Jun 15;60(12):3175-82.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Cancer research

Related Resources

Link to article in PubMed

PubMed ID