Prostate cancer (PCa) remains one of the most prevalent malignancies affecting men in the western world. The etiology for PCa development and molecular mechanisms underlying castration-resistant progression are incompletely understood. Emerging evidence from many tumor systems has shown the existence of distinct subpopulations of stem like-cancer cells termed cancer stem cells (CSCs), which may be involved in tumor initiation, progression, metastasis and therapy resistance. Prostate cancer stem cells (PCSCs) have also been identified using different experimental strategies in distinct model systems. In this brief review, we summarize our current knowledge of normal prostate stem/progenitor cells, highlight recent progress on PCSCs, expound on the potential cell-of-origin for PCa and discuss the involvement of PCSCs in PCa progression and castration resistance. Elucidation of the phenotypic and functional properties and molecular regulation of PCSCs will help us better understand PCa biology and may lead to development of novel therapeutics targeting castration-resistant PCa cells.
Keywords: cancer stem cells; differentiation; prostate cancer; prostate cancer stem cells; therapy resistance.