The adult prostate gland grows and develops under hormonal control while its physiological functions are controlled by the autonomic nervous system. The prostate gland receives sympathetic input via the hypogastric nerve and parasympathetic input via the pelvic nerve. In addition, the hypogastric and pelvic nerves also provide sensory inputs to the gland. This review provides a summary of the innervation of the adult prostate gland and describes the changes which occur with age and disease. Growth and development of the prostate gland is age dependent as is the occurrence of both benign prostate disease and prostate cancer. In parallel, the activity and influence of both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system changes with age. The influence of the sympathetic nervous system on benign prostatic hyperplasia is well documented and this review considers the possibility of a link between changes in autonomic innervation and prostate cancer progression.
Keywords: acetylcholine; adrenoceptors; autonomic nervous system; muscarinic receptors; noradrenaline; parasympathetic nervous system; sympathetic nervous system.