Glossary

Sometimes you have to bypass the doctors to get useful facts on self help for advanced prostate cancer as you often won’t even be given the most basic lifestyle or dietary information.

At other times you have to check up on the natural remedies you hear about just to find out whether they are genuine.

The only way to do that is to go straight to the peer reviewed scientific research papers, many of which are freely available on the internet. The only problem is that the language is very technical.

However the psychological effect of taking some time to understand the jargon can be very rewarding. Knowledge is power and the feeling of hope that it can bring may be all you require to keep on fighting.

In order to get to grips with the jargon while doing your research we’ve supplied this useful glossary written in plain English.

To make it all a little easier to understand I’ve colour coded everything as follows:

Red text = something that supports the development of advanced prostate cancer (bad)

Orange text = neither inhibits or supports the development of advanced prostate cancer (neutral)

Green text = something that inhibits the development of advanced prostate cancer (good)

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Anaerobic metabolism: a state where cells are able to respire and metabolise in low or zero oxygen conditions.

Analogue: something which is similar in some way to another thing, eg. ethionine is analogous to Methionine.

Androgen Receptor (AR): A receptor which is highly expressed in androgen dependent and recurrent prostate cancer. This suggests that it has a role in tumor growth and progression after androgen deprivation. AR amplification may contribute to androgen receptor activation in relative androgen absence.

Angiogenesis: The development of new blood vessels. Cancer cells have an angiogenetic capability which in turn feeds these cancer cells. Lowering serum cholesterol suppresses tumour angiogenesis.

AR: see Androgen Receptor

Assay: an in vitro procedure used to detect, quantify and study the binding or activity of a biological molecule, eg. an enzyme.

Caspases: A family of enzymes playing essential roles in programmed cell death and inflammation. They ensure that the cell components are degraded in a controlled way with minimal effect to surrounding tissues. Caspases also have a role in processes such as cell proliferation, tumour suppression and cell differentiation amongst others.

DL-alpha-difluoromethylornithine (DFMO): (Mnemonic: Defiantly Fighting My ODC

Endogenous(ly): growing or produced by growth from deep tissue, caused by factors inside the organism or system.

Exogenous: Originating from outside of the organism.

Extracellular Matrix (ECM): A collection of molecules that is found in the spaces between cells. These are secreted by the cells in order to provide themselves with structural and chemical support. ECM holds groups of cells together and is therefore important in preventing of cancer cells breaking off and spreading to other tissue. It can be negatively affected by polyamines.

Fibroblast: A cell that moves through connective tissue depositing extracellular matrix.

Homocysteine: an amino acid that is produced by the body by chemically altering adenosine. It is an intermediate in the metabolism of methionine and cysteine.
Hypoxia: Deficiency in the amount of oxygen reaching body tissue. A common condition in cancer tissues, exerts a strong pressure on cells to separate from the tumor cluster and migrate into circulation.

Hypoxia Inducible Factor-1 (HIF-1): A transcription factor that enhances gene expression to promote angiogenesis, anaerobic metabolism, cell survival, and invasion.

IκBα: one of a family of cellular proteins that function to inhibit the NF-κB transcription factor (see below). IκBα inhibits NF-κB by masking the signals of NF-κB proteins and keeping them in an inactive state in the cell fluid. In addition, IκBα blocks the ability of NF-κB transcription factors to bind to DNA, which is required for NF-κB’s proper functioning. (Mnemonic: I Kick Binding’s Ass)

Ligand: a molecule that binds to another, usually larger, molecule.

LNCaP: a cell line of human cancer cells commonly used in the field of prostate cancer research. LNCaP cells are androgen-sensitive, adherent epithelial cells growing in aggregates and as single cells. Because they are androgen sensitive and adherent (ie. the adhere to each other) they have a relatively low metastatic potential.

NF-κB (nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells): is a protein complex that controls transcription of DNA, production of cytokine and cell survival. Found in almost all animal cell types, it is involved in responses to stress, cytokines, free radicals, heavy metals, ultraviolet irradiation, oxidized LDL, and bacterial or viral antigens. It plays an important role in regulating the immune response to infection) and incorrect NF-κB  regulation has been linked to cancer amongst other diseases. (Mnemonic: Needlessly Fixing Killer Biology)

Normoxic: Having a normal oxygen concentration.

Ornithine Decarboxylase (ODC): A chemical which increases the invasive nature of cancer cells. It is suppressed by DL-alpha-difluoromethylornithine (DFMO). However the inhibitory effect of DFMO is reduced by polyamine supplementation. (Mnemonic: Obnoxiously Distributing Cancer).

Osteoblast: Cells which synthesise and build bone. In metastatic spread of prostate cancer to the bone activity of the osteoblasts are stimulated while the activity of osteoclasts, the cells that break down bone, is suppressed.

Osteoclast: A cell which breaks down bone as part of the natural cycle of growth, healing and cell replacement. In metastatic spread of prostate cancer to the bone activity of the osteoclasts are suppressed while osteoblasts are stimulated.

Osteoblastic Lesion: A damaged area in bone where new bone is formed. Lesions in bone caused by metastatic spread of prostate cancer are unusual in that they are osteoblastic, while in many other cancers lesions in bone are osteolytic (see below).

Osteolytic Lesion: A damaged area in bone where new bone is lost. This is more typical of lesions in metastatic spread to bone in other cancers.

PC3 (PC-3) human prostate cancer cell lines are one of several cell lines used in prostate cancer research. As they have a high metastatic potential they are useful in investigating the changes in advanced prostatic cancer cells and in assessing their response to chemotherapeutic agents.

Phosphorylation is the addition of a phosphate group to a molecule. Phosphorylation and its counterpart, dephosphorylation, turn many protein enzymes on and off, altering their function and activity.

Peptides: The building blocks of proteins.

Receptor: an organ or cell able to respond to light, heat, or other external stimulus and transmit a signal to a sensory nerve. A region of tissue, or a molecule in a cell membrane, which responds specifically to a particular neurotransmitter, hormone, antigen, or other substance.

Ribonucleic Acid (RNA): a nucleic acid present in all living cells. Its principal role is to act as a messenger carrying instructions from DNA for controlling the synthesis of proteins, although in some viruses RNA rather than DNA carries the genetic information.

Signal Transduction (aka Cell Signaling): The transmission of molecular signals from a cell’s exterior to its interior. Signals received by cells must be transmitted effectively into the cell to ensure an appropriate response. This step is initiated by cell-surface receptors.

Sterol Response Element: a response that controls the activation of specific genes in response to a fall in the levels of cholesterol. This regulation of specific genes is necessary because cholesterol can be obtained by mammalian cells either by uptake of cholesterol-containing lipoprotein particles or by de novo biosynthesis. Sterol Response Element ensures an appropriate supply of cholesterol by repression of several key genes involved in cholesterol metabolism.

Transcription: The process of making a copy of a gene. This copy acts like a messenger where it directs the synthesis of proteins and other chemicals.

Transcription factors: are proteins involved in the process of making copies of a gene (see Transcription, above). Transcription factors include a wide range of proteins that initiate and regulate the transcription of genes. Transcription factors have the ability to bind to specific sequences of DNA called enhancer or promoter sequences. Some transcription factors bind to a DNA promoter sequence near the transcription start site and help form the transcription initiation complex. Other transcription factors bind to regulatory sequences, such as enhancer sequences, and can either stimulate or repress transcription of the related gene. These regulatory sequences can be thousands of base pairs upstream or downstream from the gene being transcribed. Regulation of transcription is the most common form of gene control. The action of transcription factors allows for unique expression of each gene in different cell types and during development.