Cancer progression: Is inhibin α from Venus or Mars?

Emma M.A. Ball, Sally L. Mellor, Gail P. Risbridger

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The inhibin field has been perplexed by the information that inhibin α is a tumour suppressor in mice yet is elevated in women with ovarian cancer. Furthermore, we have consistently observed a down-regulation or loss of inhibin α in prostate cancer patient samples and cell lines. However, our latest data have prompted us to re-evaluate the role of inhibin α in prostate and other cancers. Using the analogy of TGF-β as a springboard for our hypothesis, we offer a unifying model whereby the previously conflicting observations in mice, men and women can be explained. We propose that initially inhibin α is tumour-suppressive and is expressed in benign and early-stage primary cancers. Tumour-suppressive inhibin α is then silenced as the tumour progresses but is reactivated as a pro-metastatic factor in advanced, aggressive cancers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-296
Number of pages6
JournalCytokine and Growth Factor Reviews
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2004


  • Activin
  • Cancer
  • Inhibin
  • Metastasis
  • Oncogene
  • Ovary
  • Prostate
  • TGF-β
  • Tumour suppressor

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