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The development of the prostate is controlled by steroid hormones that in turn induce and maintain a complex and little understood cross talk between the various cell types making up the gland. The result of this intercellular communication can be either new growth or growth quiescence, depending upon the differentiation state of the cell type being stimulated. Secretory function of the prostate is dependent upon direct stimulation of fully differentiated prostatic epithelial cells by androgens. The prostate thus seems to be regulated in a similar manner to other organs of the male and female genital tract with proliferative control mediated by cell-cell interactions, whereas differentiated function is determined by direct steroid action on the parenchymal cells.