Prostate cancer (PCa) is the most prevalent cancer, a significant contributor to morbidity and a leading cause of cancer-related death in men in Western industrialized countries. In contrast to genetic changes that vary among individual cases, somatic epigenetic alterations are early and highly consistent events. Epigenetics encompasses several different phenomena, such as DNA methylation, histone modifications, RNA interference, and genomic imprinting. Epigenetic processes regulate gene expression and can change malignancy-associated phenotypes such as growth, migration, invasion, or angiogenesis. Methylations of certain genes are associated with PCa progression. Compared to normal prostate tissues, several hypermethylated genes have also been identified in benign prostate hyperplasia, which suggests a role for aberrant methylation in this growth dysfunction. Global and gene-specific DNA methylation could be affected by environmental and dietary factors. Among other epigenetic changes, aberrant DNA methylation might have a great potential as diagnostic or prognostic marker for PCa and could be tested in tumor tissues and various body fluids (e.g., serum, urine). The DNA methylation markers are simple in nature, have high sensitivity, and could be detected either quantitatively or qualitatively. Availability of genome-wide screening methodologies also allows the identification of epigenetic signatures in high throughput population studies. Unlike irreversible genetic changes, epigenetic alterations are reversible and could be used for PCa targeted therapies.
Keywords: Epigenetics, Genome, Methylation, Prostate cancer, DNA, histone modifications, RNA interference, genomic imprinting, angiogenesis, DNMTs
Rights & PermissionsPrintExport