Background: The mechanism of resistance acquisition to antiandrogens in prostate cancer is not fully understood. Numerous clinical and basic research studies have shown expression of androgen receptors (ARs) increases in hormone-refractory prostate cancer and therefore we explored possible molecular mechanisms by which prostate cancer acquires resistance to antiandrogens under conditions of increased AR expression.
Methods: In order to study resistance to antiandrogens at the AR transactivation level we used a human AR (hAR) reporter assay system. In addition, we utilized an hAR deletion mutant to determine the functional domain responsible for the acquisition of resistance.
Results: Increased hAR protein expression enhanced the sensitivity of AR transactivation to low concentrations of DHT, and also reduced the inhibitory activity of the non-steroidal antiandrogens, hydroxyflutamide, and bicalutamide on DHT-induced AR transactivation. Moreover, these antiandrogens acquired agonistic activity under conditions of high hAR protein expression. Such agonistic activity of antiandrogens was not detected in an hAR deletion mutant (hAR-DeltaA/B) that lacked an A/B domain with AF-1 activity.
Conclusions: We found that non-steroidal antiandrogens act as AF-1 agonists under conditions of high AR protein expression. This partial antagonistic property of antiandrogens may be a molecular mechanism by which prostate cancer develops resistance to these drugs.
(c) 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.