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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 464869, 8 pages
Research Article

Sex Steroid Metabolism in Benign and Malignant Intact Prostate Biopsies: Individual Profiling of Prostate Intracrinology

1Department of Experimental Medicine, Sapienza University, Viale del Policlinico 155A, 00161 Rome, Italy
2Department of Urology, Sapienza University, 00161 Rome, Italy
3Department of Radiology, Sapienza University, 00161 Rome, Italy

Received 2 May 2014; Accepted 18 June 2014; Published 13 August 2014

Academic Editor: Giovanni Luca Gravina

Copyright © 2014 Daniele Gianfrilli et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In vitro studies reveal that androgens, oestrogens, and their metabolites play a crucial role in prostate homeostasis. Most of the studies evaluated intraprostatic hormone metabolism using cell lines or preprocessed specimens. Using an ex vivo model of intact tissue cultures with preserved architecture, we characterized the enzymatic profile of biopsies from patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or cancer (PC), focusing on 17β-hydroxy-steroid-dehydrogenases (17β-HSDs) and aromatase activities. Samples from 26 men who underwent prostate needle core biopsies (BPH n = 14; PC n = 12) were incubated with radiolabeled 3H-testosterone or 3H-androstenedione. Conversion was evaluated by TLC separation and beta-scanning of extracted supernatants. We identified three major patterns of conversion. The majority of BPHs revealed no active testosterone/oestradiol conversion as opposed to prostate cancer. Conversion correlated with histology and PSA, but not circulating hormones. Highest Gleason scores had a higher androstenedion-to-testosterone conversion and expression of 17β-HSD-isoenzymes-3/5. Conclusions. We developed an easy tool to profile individual intraprostatic enzymatic activity by characterizing conversion pathways in an intact tissue environment. In fresh biopsies we found that 17β-HSD-isoenzymes and aromatase activities correlate with biological behaviour allowing for morphofunctional phenotyping of pathology specimens and clinical monitoring of novel enzyme-targeting drugs.