To determine if the activin/follistatin system is present in human prostate tissue and primary cultures of prostatic epithelium and if these growth factors play a role in the control of epithelial cell growth.Materials and Methods
Cells derived directly from human prostates were studied to determine: a) if they secrete activin and follistatin, and b) if they are growth inhibited by activin. Primary cell cultures were established from tissues removed from 13 unselected prostate carcinoma patients in order to examine the secretion of activin and follistatin and test the effects of these proteins on cell proliferation.Results
Both primary explant cells and epithelial cells isolated and sub-cultured from explant cultures secreted activin A and follistatin. Treatment of cultured cells with recombinant human activin A resulted in a dose-dependent inhibition of thymidine incorporation, with an IC50 of 0.22 nM. Recombinant follistatin neutralized the inhibitory effects of activin A on cell proliferation whilst adding follistatin alone enhanced thymidine incorporation, suggesting a similar neutralizing effect on the endogenous activin produced by these cells.Conclusion
These results demonstrate that cells derived from human prostate tissue secrete activin and follistatin and, as observed in human prostate cancer cell lines, activin inhibited the growth of prostatic epithelial cells. Also consistent with our earlier studies of prostate cancer cell lines, the biological activity of activin was neutralized by follistatin. These observations support the hypothesis that the activin/follistatin system plays an important role in the local regulation of human prostate cell growth.