The role of endocrine disruptors (EDs) in the human prostate gland is an overlooked issue even though the prostate is essential for male fertility. From experimental models, it is known that EDs can influence several molecular mechanisms involved in prostate homeostasis and diseases, including prostate cancer (PCa), one of the most common cancers in the male, whose onset and progression is characterized by the deregulation of several cellular pathways including androgen receptor (AR) signaling. The prostate gland essentiality relies on its function to produce and secrete the prostatic fluid, a component of the seminal fluid, needed to keep alive and functional sperms upon ejaculation. In physiological condition, in the prostate epithelium the more-active androgen, the 5α-dihydrotestosterone (DHT), formed from testosterone (T) by the 5α-reductase enzyme (SRD5A), binds to AR and, upon homodimerization and nuclear translocation, recognizes the promoter of target genes modulating them. In pathological conditions, AR mutations and/or less specific AR binding by ligands modulate differently targeted genes leading to an altered regulation of cell proliferation and triggering PCa onset and development. EDs acting on the AR-dependent signaling within the prostate gland can contribute to the PCa onset and to exacerbating its development.
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