Document Type


Publication Date

July 2007


This article has been peer reviewed. It is the authors' final version prior to publication in Endocrinology 148(7):3089-3101, July 2007. The published version is available at Copyright is retained by The Endocrine Society.


The molecular mechanisms that promote progression of localized prostate cancer to hormone-refractory and disseminated disease are poorly understood. Prolactin (Prl) is a local growth factor produced in high-grade prostate cancer, and exogenously added Prl in tissue or explant cultures of normal and malignant prostate is a strong mitogen and survival factor for prostate epithelium. The key signaling proteins that mediate the biological effects of Prl in prostate cancer are Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription (Stat)-5a/5b via activation of Janus kinase-2. Importantly, inhibition of Stat5a/b in prostate cancer cells induces apoptotic death. Using a specific Prl receptor antagonist (Delta1-9G129R-hPRL), we demonstrate here for the first time that autocrine Prl in androgen-independent human prostate cancer cells promotes cell viability via Stat5 signaling pathway. Furthermore, we examined a unique clinical material of human hormone refractory prostate cancers and metastases and show that autocrine Prl is expressed in 54% of hormone-refractory clinical human prostate cancers and 62% prostate cancer metastases. Finally, we demonstrate that autocrine Prl is expressed from both the proximal and distal promoters of the Prl gene in clinical human prostate cancers and in vivo and in vitro human prostate cancer models, independently of pituitary transcription factor-1 (Pit-1). Collectively, the data provide novel evidence for the concept that autocrine Prl signaling pathway is involved in growth of hormone-refractory and metastatic prostate cancer. The study also provides support for the use of Prl receptor antagonists or other therapeutic strategies to block the Prl-Janus kinase-2-Stat5 signaling pathway in advanced prostate cancer.