The pleiotropic roles of transforming growth factor beta in homeostasis and carcinogenesis
of endocrine organs.
Transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) is a ubiquitous cytokine that plays a critical role in numerous pathways regulating cellular and tissue homeostasis. TGF-beta is regulated by hormones and is a primary mediator of hormone response in uterus, prostate and mammary gland. This review will address the role of TGF-beta in regulating hormone dependent proliferation and morphogenesis. The subversion of TGF-beta regulation during the processes of carcinogenesis, with particular emphasis on its effects on genetic stability and epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT), will also be examined. An understanding of the multiple and complex mechanisms of TGF-beta regulation of epithelial function, and the ultimate loss of TGF-beta function during carcinogenesis, will be critical in the design of novel therapeutic interventions for endocrine-related cancers.