Function of heparanase in prostate tumorigenesis: Potential for therapy

Immanuel Lerner, Leah Baraz, Eli Pikarsky, Amichay Meirovitz, Evgeny Edovitsky, Tamar Peretz, Israel Vlodavsky, Michael Elkin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Purpose: Heparanase is the predominant enzyme that cleaves heparan sulfate, the main polysaccharide in the extracellular matrix. Whereas the role of heparanase in sustaining the pathology of human cancer is well documented, its association with prostate carcinoma remains uncertain. Our research was undertaken to elucidate the significance of heparanase in prostate tumorigenesis and bone metastasis. Experimental Design: We applied immunohistochemical analysis of tissue microarray, in vitro adhesion and invasion assays, as well as mouse models of intraosseous growth and spontaneous metastasis of prostate cancer, monitored by whole-body bioluminescent imaging. Electroporation-assisted administration of anti-heparanase small interfering RNA in vivo was applied as a therapeutic approach. Results: We report a highly statistically significant (P < 0.0001) prevalence of heparanase overexpression in prostate carcinomas versus noncancerous tissue, as well as strong correlation between tumor grade and the extent of heparanase expression. We observed >5-fold increase in the metastatic potential of PC-3 prostate carcinoma cells engineered to overexpress heparanase. Notably, overexpression of a secreted form of the enzyme also led to a dramatic increase in intraosseous prostate tumor growth. Local in vivo silencing of heparanase resulted in a 4-fold inhibition of prostate tumor growth, representing the first successful application of anticancer therapy based on heparanase small interfering RNA and validating the potential of heparanase as a target for prostate cancer treatment. Conclusions: Heparanase directly contributes to prostate tumor growth in bone and its ability to metastasize to distant organs. Thus, anti-heparanase strategy may become an important modality in the treatment of prostate cancer patients, particularly those with bone metastases.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)668-676
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2008
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Function of heparanase in prostate tumorigenesis: Potential for therapy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this