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New Prostate Stem Cell May Be a Source of Cancer

Study suggests new type of cell is a luminal secretory cell, not a basal cell

MONDAY, Sept. 14 (HealthDay News) -- A new type of prostate stem cell isolated from adult mice may be a source of prostate cancer, according to a study published online Sept. 9 in Nature.

Noting that Nkx3-1 expression marks a stem cell population that functions during prostate regeneration after androgen deprivation, Xi Wang, from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, and colleagues isolated castration-resistant Nkx3-1-expressing cells (CARNs) from the ducts of prostates from adult mice and investigated their properties.

The researchers found that CARNs were rare, representing about 0.7 percent of prostate epithelial cells. The cells were luminal secretory cells rather than basal or neuroendocrine cells, in contrast to previously described prostate stem cell populations that were exclusively basal cells. CARNs were bipotential, could self-renew in vivo, and could reconstitute prostate ducts in renal grafts. Further experiments suggested that Nkx3-1 was required for stem cell maintenance, and deleting a tumor suppressor gene in CARNs led to rapid development of prostate cancer during prostate regeneration.

"These observations indicate that CARNs represent a new luminal stem cell population that is an efficient target for oncogenic transformation in prostate cancer," Wang and colleagues conclude.

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