Selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) are a class of drugs that control the activity of the androgen receptor (AR), which mediates the response to androgens, in a tissue-selective fashion. They are specifically designed to reduce the possible complications that result from the systemic inhibition or activation of AR in patients with diseases that involve androgen signalling. However, there are no ideal in vivo models for evaluating candidate SARMs. Therefore, we created a panel of androgen-responsive genes in clinically relevant AR expressing tissues including prostate, skin, bone, fat, muscle, brain and kidney. We used select genes from this panel to compare transcriptional changes in response to the full agonist dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and the SARM bolandiol at 16 h and 6 weeks. We identified several genes in each tissue whose expression at each of these time points correlates with the known tissue-specific effects of these compounds. For example, in the prostate we found four genes whose expression was much lower in animals treated with bolandiol compared with animals treated with DHT for 6 weeks, which correlated well with differences in prostate weight. We demonstrate that adding molecular measurements (androgen-regulated gene expression) to the traditional physiological measurements (tissue weights, etc.) makes the evaluation of potential SARMs more accurate, thorough and perhaps more rapid by allowing measurement of selectivity after only 16 h of drug treatment.
© 2012 American Society of Andrology and European Academy of Andrology.