RESEARCH SUPPORT, N.I.H., EXTRAMURAL
Androgens and estrogens in benign prostatic hyperplasia: past, present and future.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and associated lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) are common clinical problems in urology. While the precise molecular etiology remains unclear, sex steroids have been implicated in the development and maintenance of BPH. Sufficient data exists linking androgens and androgen receptor pathways to BPH and use of androgen reducing compounds, such as 5α-reductase inhibitors which block the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone, are a component of the standard of care for men with LUTS attributed to an enlarged prostate. However, BPH is a multifactorial disease and not all men respond well to currently available treatments, suggesting factors other than androgens are involved. Testosterone, the primary circulating androgen in men, can also be metabolized via CYP19/aromatase into the potent estrogen, estradiol-17β. The prostate is an estrogen target tissue and estrogens directly and indirectly affect growth and differentiation of prostate. The precise role of endogenous and exogenous estrogens in directly affecting prostate growth and differentiation in the context of BPH is an understudied area. Estrogens and selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) have been shown to promote or inhibit prostate proliferation signifying potential roles in BPH. Recent research has demonstrated that estrogen receptor signaling pathways may be important in the development and maintenance of BPH and LUTS; however, new models are needed to genetically dissect estrogen regulated molecular mechanisms involved in BPH. More work is needed to identify estrogens and associated signaling pathways in BPH in order to target BPH with dietary and therapeutic SERMs.
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