Role of the EpCAM (CD326) in prostate cancer metastasis and progression

Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2012 Dec;31(3-4):779-91. doi: 10.1007/s10555-012-9389-1.


Despite significant advances in surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy to treat prostate cancer (CaP), many patients die of secondary disease (metastases). Current therapeutic approaches are limited, and there is no cure for metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). Epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM, also known as CD326) is a transmembrane glycoprotein that is highly expressed in rapidly proliferating carcinomas and plays an important role in the prevention of cell-cell adhesion, cell signalling, migration, proliferation and differentiation. Stably and highly expressed EpCAM has been found in primary CaP tissues, effusions and CaP metastases, making it an ideal candidate of tumour-associated antigen to detect metastasis of CaP cells in the circulation as well as a promising therapeutic target to control metastatic CRPC disease. In this review, we discuss the implications of the newly identified roles of EpCAM in terms of its diagnostic and metastatic relevance to CaP. We also summarize EpCAM expression in human CaP and EpCAM-mediated signalling pathways in cancer metastasis. Finally, emerging and innovative approaches to the management of the disease and expanding potential therapeutic applications of EpCAM for targeted strategies in future CaP therapy will be explored.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / analysis
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / chemistry
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / physiology*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / analysis
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / chemistry
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / physiology*
  • Disease Progression
  • Epithelial Cell Adhesion Molecule
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplastic Cells, Circulating
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Epithelial Cell Adhesion Molecule