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Volume 11, Issue 1 (January 2009) 11, 39–48; 10.1038/aja.2008.44

The diverse and contrasting effects of using human prostate cancer cell lines to study androgen receptor roles in prostate cancer

Sheng-Qiang Yu1,2,*, Kuo-Pao Lai2,*, Shu-Jie Xia1, Hong-Chiang Chang3, Chawnshang Chang2 and Shuyuan Yeh2

1 Department of Urology, The First People’s Hospital of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200080, China
2 George Whipple Laboratory for Cancer Research, Departments of Pathology and Urology, The Cancer Center, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14642, USA
3 Department of Urology, National Taiwan University/Hospital, Taipei 100, Taiwan, China

* These two authors contributed equally to this paper.

Correspondence: Prof. Chawnshang Chang, E-mail: chang@urmc.rochester.edu; Prof. Shuyuan Yeh, E-mail: Shuyuan_yeh@urmc.rochester.edu

Received 8 November 2008; Accepted 9 November 2008; Published online 22 December 2008


The androgen receptor (AR) plays an important role in the development and progression of prostate cancer (PCa). Androgen deprivation therapy is initially effective in blocking tumor growth, but it eventually leads to the hormone-refractory state. The detailed mechanisms of the conversion from androgen dependence to androgen independence remain unclear. Several PCa cell lines were established to study the role of AR in PCa, but the results were often inconsistent or contrasting in different cell lines, or in the same cell line grown under different conditions. The cellular and molecular alteration of epithelial cells and their microenvironments are complicated, and it is difficult to use a single cell line to address this important issue and also to study the pathophysiological effects of AR. In this paper, we summarize the different effects of AR on multiple cell lines and show the disadvantages of using a single human PCa cell line to study AR effects on PCa. We also discuss the advantages of widely used epithelium–stroma co-culture systems, xenograft mouse models, and genetically engineered PCa mouse models. The combination of in vitro cell line studies and in vivo mouse models might lead to more credible results and better strategies for the study of AR roles in PCa.

Keywords: androgen receptor, cell lines, epithelium–stroma co-culture, mouse models, prostate cancer

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