The epigenome as a therapeutic target in prostate cancer.


Antoinette S Perry, R William G Watson, Mark Lawler, Donal Hollywood

Nature Reviews Urology



During cancer development and progression, tumor cells undergo abnormal epigenetic modifications, including DNA methylation, histone deacetylation and nucleosome remodeling. Collectively, these aberrations promote genomic instability and lead to silencing of tumor-suppressor genes and reactivation of oncogenic retroviruses. Epigenetic modifications, therefore, provide exciting new avenues for prostate cancer research. Promoter hypermethylation is widespread during neoplastic transformation of prostate cells, which suggests that restoration of a 'normal' epigenome through treatment with inhibitors of the enzymes involved could be clinically beneficial. Global patterns of histone modifications are also being defined and have been associated with clinical and pathologic predictors of prostate cancer outcome. Although treatment for localized prostate cancer can be curative, the development of successful therapies for the management of castration-resistant metastatic disease is urgently needed. Reactivation of tumor-suppressor genes by demethylating agents and histone deacetylase inhibitors could be a potential treatment option for patients with advanced disease.

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