Neuroendocrine differentiation in the progression of prostate cancer

Int J Urol. 2009 Jan;16(1):37-44. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-2042.2008.02175.x.


Neuroendocrine (NE) cells originally exist in the normal prostate acini and duct, regulating prostatic growth, differentiation and secretion. Clusters of malignant NE cells are found in most prostate cancer (PCa) cases. NE differentiation (NED) is the basic character of the prostate, either benign or malignant. NE cells hold certain peptide hormones or pro-hormones, which affect the target cells by endocrine, paracrine, autocrine and neuroendocrine transmission in an androgen-independent fashion due to the lack of androgen receptor. NED is accessed by immunohistochemical staining or measurement of serum levels of NE markers. The extent of NED is associated with progression and prognosis of PCa. Chromogranin A (CGA) is the most important NE marker. In metastatic PCa, pretreatment serum CGA levels can be a predictor for progression and survival after endocrine therapy. It is recommended to measure longitudinal change in serum CGA. The NE pathway can also be a therapeutic target.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Androgen Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Chromogranin A / blood
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Neuroendocrine Cells / pathology*
  • Prostate / pathology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*


  • Androgen Antagonists
  • Biomarkers
  • Chromogranin A