Neuroendocrine cells have been found in all the stages of prostate cancer, but their clinical significance is not completely understood. Neuroendocrine cells are androgen receptor- and prostate-specific antigen-negative, do not proliferate, and secrete many neuropeptides, such as chromogranin A. Neuroendocrine differentiation of prostate cancer correlates with an advancing tumour stage, poor prognosis and tumour progression after androgen deprivation. Furthermore, neuroendocrine phenotype is associated with the increased expression of neo-angiogenesis and vascular endothelial growth factor and with an over-expression of survivin, a new anti-apoptosis protein. Chromogranin A is the quantitatively major secretory protein of the vesicles inside neuroendocrine prostate cells and it is the marker most frequently used to detect neuroendocrine features, both in tissues and in general circulation. Tumours displaying neuroendocrine phenotype tend to be more aggressive and resistant to hormone-therapy. Neuroendocrine differentiation seems to be a dynamic phenomenon: in vitro and in vivo data suggest that it can be induced by androgen suppression. Moreover, the differences in the expression of somatostatin receptors between primary and hormone-refractory prostate cancer are likely to be related to the changes in neuroendocrine phenotype during androgen deprivation. Circulating chromogranin A levels seem to be scarcely affected by endocrine- and chemotherapy, while they significantly decreased after treatment with somatostatin analogs.

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Digestive and Liver Disease
Department of Internal Medicine

Mosca, A, Dogliotti, L, Berruti, A, Lamberts, S.W.J, & Hofland, L.J. (2004). Somatostatin receptors: From basic science to clinical approach. Unlabeled somatostatin analogues-1: Prostate cancer. Digestive and Liver Disease (Vol. 36). doi:10.1016/j.dld.2003.11.021