Endothelin-1 as a target for therapeutic intervention in prostate cancer

E. Scott Kopetz, Joel B. Nelson, Michael A. Carducci

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The endothelins, a family of potent vasoconstricting peptides, have been implicated in the pathophysiology of advanced prostate cancer. Two endothelin receptors, ET-A and ET-B are found in normal prostate tissue. Malignant prostate cells are notable for the loss of ET-B receptors and increased levels of endothelin-1 [ET-1]; this distortion of the endothelin system may be a significant factor in the progression of prostate cancer. Proposed roles for endothelin in prostate cancer include growth promotion, apoptosis inhibition, bone formation, and stimulation of nociceptive receptors. ET-1 can act alone as a mitogen, but its effects are greatest as a comitogen with a variety of growth factors, including basic fibroblast growth factor, insulin-like growth factors, and platelet derived growth factor. Although their exact functions are unclear, ET-1, in conjunction with vascular endothelial growth factor, appears to play a major role in tumor angiogenesis. By a variety of methods, ET-1 alters the balance of osteoblast and osteoclasts to the favor new bone formation that is characteristic of metastatic disease. Several studies indicate that the refractory pain of metastatic cancer is related to the direct nociceptive effects ET-1. These findings suggest that ET receptors are promising therapeutic targets for pharmacologic intervention. Early clinical trials indicate that the ET-A receptor antagonist used in prostate cancer is reasonably well tolerated with mild but pervasive symptoms related to ET-1's vasoconstrictive effects. Results of ongoing clinical trials are eagerly awaited in order to see if the hypothetical promise of ET antagonism will result in clinical success.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-182
Number of pages10
JournalInvestigational New Drugs
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002


  • Endothelin
  • Prostate cancer
  • Receptor antagonist

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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