High fat-induced obesity associated with insulin-resistance increases FGF-2 content and causes stromal hyperplasia in rat ventral prostate
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Obesity affects sex hormone secretion, which can negatively influence prostatic structure, homeostasis, and disease. This investigation aimed to evaluate the repercussions of obesity induced by a high-fat diet on the rat prostate, with or without treatment with the aromatase inhibitor, Letrozole. Adult Wistar rats were fed a high-fat diet (20% saturated fat, O) for 15 weeks to induce obesity or received a balanced diet (4% fat, C). Then, a group of C and O rats were daily treated with Letrozole (1 mg/kg b.w. per day) for 2 weeks (CL and OL, respectively). Subsequently, ventral prostate was processed for analysis by transmission electron microscopy, immunohistochemistry, and Western blotting. Obesity decreased 70% of the testosterone plasma level. The prostate showed epithelial atrophy and dilated acini in the intermediate portion and epithelial wrinkling in the distal tips. The relative frequency of smooth muscle alpha-actin in the O group increased by 67%. Ultrastructurally, epithelial cells in obese animals presented altered secretory organelles, lipid droplets, and thicker subjacent fibromuscular layer. Letrozole treatment caused a partial restoration of the prostatic changes caused by obesity. Obesity increased the prostatic content of fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF-2) by 150%, and Letrozole treatment increased this protein even more in the control and obese groups. This investigation shows that obesity provokes structural and ultrastructural changes in the epithelium of rat prostate; these changes might affect gland homeostasis and physiology. The epithelial and smooth muscle cell hyperplasia and increased FGF-2 expression observed in this experimental model of obesity/insulin-resistance might explain the high frequency of benign prostatic hyperplasia in insulin-resistant men.