A mounting body of evidence suggests that increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) is linked to aging processes and to the etiopathogenesis of aging-related diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, atherosclerosis and degenerative diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Excess ROS are deleterious to normal cells, while in cancer cells, they can lead to accelerated tumorigenesis. In prostate cancer (PC), oxidative stress, an innate key event characterized by supraphysiological ROS concentrations, has been identified as one of the hallmarks of the aggressive disease phenotype. Specifically, oxidative stress is associated with PC development, progression and the response to therapy. Nevertheless, a thorough understanding of the relationships between oxidative stress, redox homeostasis and the activation of proliferation and survival pathways in healthy and malignant prostate remains elusive. Moreover, the failure of chemoprevention strategies targeting oxidative stress reduced the level of interest in the field after the recent negative results of the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT) trial. Therefore, a revisit of the concept is warranted and several key issues need to be addressed: The consequences of changes in ROS levels with respect to altered redox homeostasis and redox-regulated processes in PC need to be established. Similarly, the key molecular events that cause changes in the generation of ROS in PC and the role for therapeutic strategies aimed at ameliorating oxidative stress need to be identified. Moreover, the issues whether genetic/epigenetic susceptibility for oxidative stress-induced prostatic carcinogenesis is an individual phenomenon and what measurements adequately quantify prostatic oxidative stress are also crucial. Addressing these matters will provide a more rational basis to improve the design of redox-related clinical trials in PC. This review summarizes accepted concepts and principles in redox research, and explores their implications and limitations in PC.
Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis. 2013;16(3):217-225. © 2013 Nature Publishing Group