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Enlarged prostate gland in adulthood can be traced back to development in the womb

30 September 2021

Early Start

Ageing is inevitable, and brings certain universal experiences. For almost all men, lower urinary tract dysfunction is part of the package. The symptoms can worsen over time and much research has looked into changes that occur with age. A new study, however, has looked a little further back and found that conditions in the womb may have lasting impacts. Researchers tested the effect of a common environmental contaminant, TCDD, on developing mouse foetus prostates and saw an increase in artemin, a protein involved in nerve cell development. The resulting boost in nerve cell density is linked to prostate enlargement in later life. The study found that TCDD exposure increases sensitivity of prostate muscle cells to stimulation (prostate tissue responding to stimulation shown, with maximal contraction activity highlighted yellow) – important as hyperactivity can lead to the problematic prostate enlargement. It seems the seeds of old age are planted while we’re young.

Today marks the end of Urology Awareness Month

Written by Anthony Lewis

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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