Recent Advances in Epigenetic Biomarkers and Epigenetic Targeting in Prostate Cancer

Anbarasu Kumaraswamy, Katherine R. Welker Leng, Thomas C. Westbrook, Joel A. Yates, Shuang G. Zhao, Christopher P. Evans, Felix Y. Feng, Todd M. Morgan, Joshi J. Alumkal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Context: In addition to genetic alterations, epigenetic alterations play a crucial role during prostate cancer progression. A better understanding of the epigenetic factors that promote prostate cancer progression may lead to the design of rational therapeutic strategies to target prostate cancer more effectively. Objective: To systematically review recent literature on the role of epigenetic factors in prostate cancer and highlight key preclinical and translational data with epigenetic therapies. Evidence acquisition: We performed a systemic literature search in PubMed. At the request of the editors, we limited our search to articles published between January 2015 and August 2020 in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Clinical trials targeting epigenetic factors were retrieved from Evidence synthesis: We retrieved 1451 articles, and 62 were finally selected for review. Twelve additional foundational studies outside this time frame were also included. Findings from both preclinical and clinical studies were reviewed and summarized. We also discuss 12 ongoing clinical studies with epigenetic targeted therapies. Conclusions: Epigenetic mechanisms impact prostate cancer progression. Understanding the role of specific epigenetic factors is critical to determine how we may improve prostate cancer treatment and modulate resistance to standard therapies. Recent preclinical studies and ongoing or completed clinical studies with epigenetic therapies provide a useful roadmap for how to best deploy epigenetic therapies clinically to target prostate cancer. Patient summary: Epigenetics is a process by which gene expression is regulated without changes in the DNA sequence itself. Oftentimes, epigenetic changes influence cellular behavior and contribute to cancer development or progression. Understanding how epigenetic changes occur in prostate cancer is the first step toward therapeutic targeting in patients. Importantly, laboratory-based studies and recently completed and ongoing clinical trials suggest that drugs targeting epigenetic factors are promising. More work is necessary to determine whether this class of drugs will add to our existing treatment arsenal in prostate cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-81
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Urology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • BET bromodomain
  • Chromatin
  • DNA methylation
  • DNA methyltransferase
  • Epigenetics
  • Histone acetyltransferase
  • Histone deacetylase
  • Histone demethylase
  • Histone methyltransferase
  • Prostate cancer
  • Ten-Eleven Translocation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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