Prostatic carcinogenesis is associated with changes in the androgen receptor (AR) axis converting it from a paracrine dependence upon stromal signaling to an autocrine-initiated signaling for proliferation and survival of prostatic cancer cells. This malignant conversion is due to gain of function changes in which the AR activates novel genomic (i.e. transcriptional) and non-genomic signaling pathways, which are not present in normal prostate epithelial cells. During further progression, additional molecular changes occur which allow these unique malignancy-dependent AR signaling pathways to be activated even in the low androgen ligand environment present following androgen ablation therapy. These signaling pathways are the result of partnering the AR with a series of other genomic (e.g. transcriptional co-activators) or non-genomic (e.g. steroid receptor co-activator (Src) kinase) signaling molecules. Thus, a combinatorial androgen receptor targeted therapy (termed CART therapy) inhibiting several points in the AR signaling cascade is needed to prevent the approximately 30,000 US males per year dying subsequent to failure of standard androgen ablation therapy. To develop such CART therapy, a series of agents targeted at specific points in the AR cascade should be used in combination with standard androgen ablative therapy to define the fewest number of agents needed to produce the maximal therapeutic anti-prostate cancer effect. As an initial approach for developing such CART therapy, a variety of new agents could be combined with luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone analogs. These include: (1) 5α-reductase inhibitors to inhibit the conversion of testosterone to the more potent androgen, dihydrotestosterone; (2) geldanamycin analogs to downregulate AR protein in prostate cancer cells, (3) 'bulky' steroid analogs, which can bind to AR and prevent its partnering with other co-activators/signaling molecules, and (4) small molecule kinase inhibitors to inhibit MEK, which is activated as part of the malignant AR signaling cascade.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Cancer Research