The phytotherapeutic agent Serenoa repens is an effective dual inhibitor of 5alpha-reductase isoenzyme activity in the prostate. Unlike other 5alpha-reductase inhibitors, Serenoa repens induces its effects without interfering with the cellular capacity to secrete PSA. Here, we focussed on the possible pathways that might differentiate the action of Permixon from that of synthetic 5alpha-reductase inhibitors. We demonstrate that Serenoa repens, unlike other 5alpha-reductase inhibitors, does not inhibit binding between activated AR and the steroid receptor-binding consensus in the promoter region of the PSA gene. This was shown by a combination of techniques: assessment of the effect of Permixon on androgen action in the LNCaP prostate cancer cell line revealed no suppression of AR and maintenance of PSA protein expression at control levels. This was consistent with reporter gene experiments showing that Permixon failed to interfere with AR-mediated transcriptional activation of PSA and that both testosterone and DHT were equally effective at maintaining this activity. Our results demonstrate that despite Serenoa repens effective inhibition of 5alpha-reductase activity in the prostate, it did not suppress PSA secretion. Therefore, we confirm the therapeutic advantage of Serenoa repens over other 5alpha-reductase inhibitors as treatment with the phytotherapeutic agent will permit the continuous use of PSA measurements as a useful biomarker for prostate cancer screening and for evaluating tumour progression.
(c) 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.