Purpose: Upregulation of Bcl-2 family members is a well-established mechanism in the development of androgen-independent prostate cancer. Inhibition of the antiapoptotic proteins Bcl-2 and Mcl-1 may delay the transition to androgen-independent growth.
Experimental design: We have established a prostate cancer model with VCaP prostate cancer cells in vivo to study the transition to androgen independence. Here, we investigated the efficacy of AT-101 (R-(-)-gossypol acetic acid; a pan small molecule inhibitor of Bcl-2, Bcl-x(L), and Mcl-1) in combination with surgical castration to delay the onset of androgen-independent growth in vivo.
Results: AT-101 (15 mg/kg, per os (p.o.) 5 days/week) in combination with surgical castration delayed the onset of androgen-independent prostate cancer growth in vivo. In addition, we demonstrate the induction of caspase-9-and caspase-3-dependent induction of apoptosis following AT-101 treatment in vitro which was accompanied by an AT-101-induced downregulation of Bcl-2 and Mcl-1 mRNA and protein expression.
Conclusions: We conclude that AT-101 in combination with surgical castration delays the onset of androgen-independent prostate cancer in vivo by disrupting the antiapoptotic activity of Bcl-2 upregulation during the transition to androgen independence. Further studies are needed to define the mechanism of action by which AT-101 attenuates the expression of Bcl-2 and Mcl-1 and to characterize the potential for AT-101 in combination with hormone therapy.
Keywords: Apoptosis; BH3 domain; Bcl-2; hormone refractory; orchiectomy.