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Mar 24, 2015
Prostate cancer is the most frequent non-cutaneous malignancy in men. There is strong evidence in rodents that neonatal estrogen exposure plays a role in the development of this disease. However, there is little information regarding the effects of estrogen in human fetal prostate tissue. This study explored early life estrogen exposure, with and without a secondary estrogen and testosterone treatment in a human fetal prostate xenograft model. Histopathological lesions, proliferation, and serum hormone levels were evaluated at 7, 30, 90, and 200-day time-points after xenografting. The expression of 40 key genes involved in prostatic glandular and stromal growth, cell-cycle progression, apoptosis, hormone receptors and tumor suppressors was evaluated using a custom PCR array. Epigenome-wide analysis of DNA methylation was performed on whole tissue, and laser capture-microdissection (LCM) isolated epithelial and stromal compartments of 200-day prostate xenografts. Combined initial plus secondary estrogenic exposures had the most severe tissue changes as revealed by the presence of hyperplastic glands at day 200. Gene expression changes corresponded with the cellular events in the KEGG prostate cancer pathway, indicating that initial plus secondary exposure to estrogen altered the PI3K-Akt signaling pathway, ultimately resulting in apoptosis inhibition and an increase in cell cycle progression. DNA methylation revealed that differentially methylated CpG sites significantly predominate in the stromal compartment as a result of estrogen-treatment, thereby providing new targets for future investigation. By using human fetal prostate tissue and eliminating the need for species extrapolation, this study provides novel insights into the gene expression and epigenetic effects related to prostate carcinogenesis following early life estrogen exposure.