Epigenetic regulation of prostate cancer: The theories and the clinical implications

Yiji Liao, Kexin Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Epigenetics is the main mechanism that controls transcription of specific genes with no changes in the underlying DNA sequences. Epigenetic alterations lead to abnormal gene expression patterns that contribute to carcinogenesis and persist throughout disease progression. Because of the reversible nature, epigenetic modifications emerge as promising anticancer drug targets. Several compounds have been developed to reverse the aberrant activities of enzymes involved in epigenetic regulation, and some of them show encouraging results in both preclinical and clinical studies. In this article, we comprehensively review the up-to-date roles of epigenetics in the development and progression of prostate cancer. We especially focus on three epigenetic mechanisms: DNA methylation, histone modifications, and noncoding RNAs. We elaborate on current models/theories that explain the necessity of these epigenetic programs in driving the malignant phenotypes of prostate cancer cells. In particular, we elucidate how certain epigenetic regulators crosstalk with critical biological pathways, such as androgen receptor (AR) signaling, and how the cooperation dynamically controls cancer-oriented transcriptional profiles. Restoration of a 'normal' epigenetic landscape holds promise as a cure for prostate cancer, so we concluded by highlighting particular epigenetic modifications as diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers or new therapeutic targets for treatment of the disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-290
Number of pages12
JournalAsian Journal of Andrology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2019


  • Androgen receptor signaling
  • Diagnostic/prognostic/predictive biomarkers
  • Epigenetic therapy
  • Epigenetics
  • Gene expression regulation
  • Prostate cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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