Anti-androgens and androgen-depleting therapies in prostate cancer: new agents for an established target

Lancet Oncol. 2009 Oct;10(10):981-91. doi: 10.1016/S1470-2045(09)70229-3.


Activation of the androgen receptor is crucial for prostate cancer growth at all points of the illness. Current therapies targeting the androgen receptor, including androgen-depletion approaches and anti-androgens, do not completely inhibit the receptor activity. Prostate cancer cells develop resistance to castration by acquiring changes that include androgen-receptor overexpression and overexpression of enzymes involved in androgen biosynthesis, which result in reactivation of the receptor. Based on an understanding of these resistance mechanisms and androgen biosynthesis pathways, new anti-androgens and androgen-depleting agents have been developed. Notably, promising activity has been shown in early phase trials by MDV3100, a new anti-androgen designed for activity in prostate cancer model systems with overexpressed androgen receptor, and by abiraterone acetate, a CYP17A inhibitor that blocks steroid biosynthesis in the adrenal gland and possibly within the tumour. Both agents are undergoing phase 3 testing. Here, we review the basic science and clinical development of these and other agents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Androgen Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Androgen Receptor Antagonists*
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology


  • Androgen Antagonists
  • Androgen Receptor Antagonists
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal