Cystatin C is believed to prevent tumor progression by inhibiting the activities of a family of lysosomal cysteine proteases. However, little is known about the precise mechanism of cystatin C function in prostate cancer. In the present study, we examined the expression of cystatin C and its association with matrix metalloproteinases 2 (MMP2) and androgen receptor (AR) in a tissue microarray comparing benign and malignant specimens from 448 patients who underwent radical prostatectomy for localized prostate cancer. Cystatin C expression was significantly lower in cancer specimens than in benign tissues (p<0.001) and there was a statistically significant inverse correlation between expression of cystatin C and MMP2 (r(s) (2) = -0.056, p = 0.05). There was a clear trend that patients with decreased level of cystatin C had lower overall survival. Targeted inhibition of cystatin C using specific siRNA resulted in an increased invasiveness of PC3 cells, whereas induction of cystatin C overexpression greatly reduced invasion rate of PC3 in vitro. The effect of cystatin C on modulating the PC3 cell invasion was provoked by Erk2 inhibitor that specifically inhibited MAPK/Erk2 activity. This suggests that cystatin C may mediate tumor cell invasion by modulating the activity of MAPK/Erk cascades. Consistent with our immunohistochemical findings that patients with low expression of cystatin C and high expression of androgen receptor (AR) tend to have worse overall survival than patients with high expression of cystatin C and high AR expression, induced overexpression of AR in PC3 cells expressing cystatin C siRNA greatly enhanced the invasiveness of PC3 cells. This suggests that there may be a crosstalk between cystatin C and AR-mediated pathways. Our study uncovers a novel role for cystatin C and its associated cellular pathways in prostate cancer invasion and metastasis.
- Cancer och onkologi