Chronic inflammation has been associated with a variety of human cancers. Although all surgical prostate specimens contain evidence of inflammation, the causal relationship between inflammation and prostate cancer has not been established. Interleulin-17 (IL-17) has been well accepted as a critical cytokine in inflammation. Both TH17 cells (T helper cells secreting IL-17) and IL-17 cytokine are increased in prostate cancer specimens, and the IL-17 receptors, IL-17RA and IL-17RC, are expressed in prostate cancer cells. However, the fundamental question of whether IL-17 plays an active role in prostate cancer needs to be determined. Our preliminary experiments revealed that in a mouse model of prostate cancer caused by conditionally mutant for Pten in the prostatic epithelium, IL- 17RC deficient (IL-17RC-) mice displayed smaller prostates and developed a reduced number of invasive prostate cancers with decreased inflammatory infiltration, reduced cellular proliferation, and increased apoptosis, compared to mice that express IL-17RC. Further, the fibromuscular stroma surrounding the prostatic glands was significantly thicker in IL-17RC- mice, a finding that we have associated with a decreased expression of matrix metalloproteinase 7 (MMP7). Addition of a recombinant mouse IL-17 induced the expression of MMP7 in the mouse prostate. Based on these findings, we have formulated a central hypothesis that, in prostate carcinogenesis caused by a Pten mutation, IL-17 facilitates prostate cancer formation and growth through an MMP7-mediated mechanism. This concept has clinical significance because blocking IL-17 or its downstream effectors such as MMP7 has the potential to be developed into new therapeutics in the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer;further, assessing the expression of IL-17- MMP7 signaling axis can be utilized as a prognostic indicator of prostate cancer. We propose to test our central hypothesis through the following three specific aims:
Aim 1 : Does MMP7 mediate IL-17's function in facilitating prostate cancer formation and growth in Pten- null mice? Aim 2: Assess the efficacy of targeting IL-17-MMP7 axis in preventing prostate cancer formation and growth in Pten-null mice.
Aim 3 : Determine the association between the IL-17-MMP7 axis and progression of human prostate cancer. Successful completion of the proposed studies will provide new insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying IL-17-mediated prostate carcinogenesis. Further, if any or all of the tested agents show efficacy, they can potentially be developed into preventive and/or therapeutic drugs against prostate cancer and other cancer types where IL-17 plays a role. The IL-17-MMP7 axis can potentially be utilized as new biomarkers in the prognosis of prostate cancer and in distinguishing between aggressive and indolent prostate cancers.
The goals of this project are to determine the mechanisms of how a proinflammatory cytokine IL-17 facilitates formation and growth of prostate cancer, to assess if blocking IL-17's functions can prevent prostate cancer formation and growth, and to test if IL-17-associated molecules can be used as biomarkers to predict the prognosis of prostate cancer patients. The findings from this project will have significant potentials to be translated into prevention and treatment of human prostate cancer.
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