Prostate cancer (PCa) is one of the most common cancers and the second leading cause of cancer-related death among men worldwide. Despite progresses in early diagnosis and therapeutic strategies, prognosis for patients with advanced PCa remains poor. Noteworthily, a unique feature of healthy prostate is its highest level of zinc content among all soft tissues in the human body, which dramatically decreases during prostate tumorigenesis. To date, several reviews have suggested antitumor activities of zinc and its potential as a therapeutic strategy of PCa. However, an overview about the role of zinc and its signaling in PCa is needed. Here, we review literature related to the content, biological function, compounds and clinical application of zinc in PCa. We first summarize zinc content in prostate tissue and sera of PCa patients with their clinical relevance. We then elaborate biological functions of zinc signaling in PCa on three main aspects, including cell proliferation, death and tumor metastasis. Finally, we discuss clinical applications of zinc-containing compounds and proteins involved in PCa signaling pathways. Based on currently available studies, we conclude that zinc plays a tumor suppressive role and can serve as a biomarker in PCa diagnosis and therapies.
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