Cholesterol has an effect on the growth of prostate cancer cells

A study conducted at the School of Medicine at the University of Tampere shows that cholesterol has an important role in the growth of prostate cancer cells. LDL cholesterol increased the growth of prostate cancer cells whereas the inhibition of the cells’ own cholesterol production effectively reduced the growth of the cells.

In comparison with normal cells, the cancer cells had clearly more of the enzyme involved in the production of cholesterol but none of the enzyme that removes cholesterol from the cells. This points to the fact that cancer cells have an altered metabolism where they strive to guarantee the supply of cholesterol for cell growth as efficiently as possible. Furthermore, this also shows that cholesterol is important in the growth of prostate cancer cells.

The research will be published in the international PLoS One open-access journal. The article is available in the internet at: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0039445

Reduced levels of cholesterol and the inhibition of the cells’ own cholesterol production may prove to be an effective method of controlling the development of prostate cancer. Tampere University Hospital will start a clinical study where men who will be undergoing prostate removal surgery will be administered up until the surgery either atorvastatin (a cholesterol-reducing drug) or placebo to allow comparison. After the surgery comparisons will be made of how the cholesterol drug has impacted the cell proliferation of the cancer tissue. The clinical study will eventually show whether the reduction of cholesterol can be used to prevent the development of prostate cancer. The study will begin in autumn 2012.

For further information please contact :
Teemu Murtola, Doctor of Medicine, phone +358 40 581 3177, teemu.murtola@uta.fi 
University of Tampere, School of Medicine
and Tampere University Hospital, Clinic of Urology