JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Mechanisms in prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome.

PURPOSE: We reviewed the current literature on mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CPPS).

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A literature review for the years 1966 to 2003 was performed using the MEDLINE database of the United States National Library of Medicine.

RESULTS: National Institutes of Health categories I and II prostatitis result from identifiable prostatic infections, whereas patients with category IV are asymptomatic. The majority of symptomatic cases are category III or chronic prostatitis (CP)/CPPS. The etiology of CP/CPPS is unknown. The traditional marker of inflammation, namely white blood cells in prostatic fluids, does not correlate with the predominant symptom of pelvic pain. An imbalance toward increased proinflammatory and decreased anti-inflammatory cytokines has been implicated and a few studies have shown some correlation of this with pelvic pain. The imbalance in some men may result from polymorphisms at the cytokine loci. An autoimmune process may be involved and experimental evidence indicates that this can be under hormonal influence. Recent findings include possible defects in the androgen receptor. The prostate may not even be the source of the symptoms. Pelvic pain also correlates with the neurotrophin nerve growth factor implicated in neurogenic inflammation and central sensitization. Finally, psychological stress may produce measurable biochemical changes and influence the other processes. The role of normal prostatic bacterial flora in inciting the inflammatory response has also been reconsidered.

CONCLUSIONS: The symptoms of CP/CPPS appear to result from an interplay between psychological factors and dysfunction in the immune, neurological and endocrine systems.

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