Androgen receptor (AR) signals play important roles in bladder carcinogenesis and tumor progression. Activation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) family, including EGFR and ERBB2, leads to bladder cancer cell growth and correlates with poor patients' prognosis. However, cross talk between AR and EGFR/ERBB2 pathways in bladder cancer remains poorly understood. In AR-positive bladder cancer UMUC3 and TCC-SUP cells, dihydrotestosterone (DHT) increased the expression of EGFR and ERBB2 both in mRNA and in protein levels, and an anti-androgen hydroxyflutamide antagonized the effect of DHT. The necessity of AR was confirmed by silencing the receptor, using short hairpin RNA (shRNA), in UMUC3 cells, as well as by expressing the receptor in AR-negative 5637 cells. Of note were much higher basal levels of EGFR and ERBB2 in UMUC3-control-shRNA than in UMUC3-AR-shRNA and those of EGFR in 5637-AR than in 5637-V. DHT additionally upregulated the levels of phosphorylation of EGFR (pEGFR) and its downstream proteins AKT (pAKT) and ERK1/2 (pERK), induced by EGF treatment, in AR-positive cells. Immunohistochemistry on cystectomy specimens showed strong associations between expressions of AR and EGFR (P = 0.0136), pEGFR (P = 0.0041), ERBB2 (P = 0.0331), or pERK (P = 0.0274), but not of pAKT (P = 0.5555). The Kaplan-Meier and log-rank tests further revealed that positivity of AR (P = 0.0005), EGFR (P = 0.2425), pEGFR (P = 0.1579), ERBB2 (P = 0.2997), or pERK (P = 0.1270) and negativity of pAKT (P = 0.0483) were associated with tumor progression. Our results indicate that AR activation upregulates the expression of EGFR and ERBB2 in bladder cancer cells. AR signals may thus contribute to the progression of bladder cancer via regulation of the EGFR/ERBB2 pathways.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Cancer Research