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Cellular interactions between stroma and epithelium are important in the growth and proliferation of prostate cancer. Peptide growth factors may facilitate the progression of prostate cancer as autocrine and/or paracrine factors. Keratinocyte Growth Factor (KGF or FGF7) has a differentiative and proliferative effect on the epithelium of the developing rat prostate. We investigated if KGF may act as a paracrine agent in human prostate cancer and examined the expression of KGF and Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptors (FGFRs) (IIIb and IIIc isoforms of the FGFR1 and FGFR2 genes). Sixty-five percent (11 out of 17 informative cases) of prostate cancers (CaP) expressed KGF mRNA by RT-PCR, while KGF expression was not detected in benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) (n = 6). Upregulation of KGF expression was related to hormone insensitive tumours (P<0.05). Tumour grade and stage were not associated with KGF expression. The source of KGF expression was further characterised using an in vitro primary culture model, showing its restriction to the prostatic stroma. The FGFR1IIIb isoform was expressed in all cases of prostate cancer (n = 17), and FGFR1IIIc mRNA was not detected. In the BPH group, FGFR1IIIb transcripts were detected in four out of six cases. FGFR2IIIb expression was detected in five of six cases of BPH and twelve out of seventeen (71%) cases of prostate cancer. In CaP, though not reaching statistical significance, the persistence of FGFR2IIIb expression appeared to be associated with hormone insensitive tumours (P=0.052). FGFR2IIIc expression was present in eleven of seventeen tumours but was absent in all six cases of BPH. Functional assessment of recombinant KGF in a proliferation assay demonstrated a mitogenic effect of up to 100% on cultured prostatic epithelial cells.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1115 - 1120


Androgens, Animals, Cell Differentiation, Epithelium, Fibroblast Growth Factor 10, Fibroblast Growth Factor 7, Fibroblast Growth Factors, Growth Substances, Humans, Male, Prostatic Neoplasms, Recombinant Proteins, Tumor Cells, Cultured