Prostate cancer cell growth is modulated by adipocyte-cancer cell interaction

BJU Int. 2003 May;91(7):716-20. doi: 10.1046/j.1464-410x.2003.04218.x.


Objective: To assess whether adipocytes (mesenchymal stromal cells thought to affect the proliferation and differentiation of epithelial cells) affect the behaviour of prostate cancer cells in vitro, as prostate cancer metastasizes to the bone, which is an adipocyte-rich environment.

Materials and methods: The human bone-metastatic prostate carcinoma cell line PC3 was cultured with or without adipocytes in a three-dimensional collagen gel matrix. Histological and immunohistochemical assays were used to evaluate the proliferation and differentiation of PC3 cells. The cytokine expression of this culture assembly was also examined by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).

Results: The proliferation and differentiation of cancer cells were clearly changed on co-culture with adipocytes compared with the control cultures. The mean (range) bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) indices estimated (according to uptake) to evaluate the growth of the cultured cells were 36.3 (8.55)% in the co-culture and 26.95 (10.50) in the control (P < 0.02). PC3 cells in co-culture formed larger clusters than in the control, at 16.0 (11.0) vs 14.0 (10.0), respectively (P < 0.01). Cancer cells also showed pleomorphism, varying from cuboidal to spindle-shaped. The expressions of vascular endothelial and platelet-derived growth factor were greater in co-culture than in the control.

Conclusion: These findings suggest that adipocytes modulate the growth, morphology and cytokine expression of prostate cancer cells. This specific mesenchymal stromal cell type is important in the biological behaviour of prostate cancer cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Cytokines
  • RNA, Messenger