Androgens and androgen receptor (AR) signaling are necessary for prostate development and homeostasis. AR signaling also drives the growth of nearly all prostate cancer cells. The role of androgens and AR signaling has been well characterized in metastatic prostate cancer, where it has been shown that prostate cancer cells are exquisitely adept at maintaining functional AR signaling to drive cancer growth. As androgens and AR signaling are so intimately involved in prostate development and the proliferation of advanced prostate cancer, it stands to reason that androgens and AR are also involved in prostate cancer initiation and the early stages of cancer growth, yet little is known of this process. In this review, we summarize the current state of knowledge concerning the role of androgens and AR signaling in prostate tissue, from development to metastatic, castration-resistant prostate cancer, and use that information to suggest potential roles for androgens and AR in prostate cancer initiation.
By Ye Zhou, Eric C Bolton & Jeremy O Jones