Inhibition of constitutively active Stat3 reverses enzalutamide resistance in LNCaP derivative prostate cancer cells

Prostate. 2014 Feb;74(2):201-9. doi: 10.1002/pros.22741. Epub 2013 Oct 16.


Purpose: Use of enzalutamide has improved the treatment of advanced prostate cancer. However, resistance to enzalutamide can develop frequently in initial responders. This study aimed to test whether overexpression of IL-6 and constitutive activation of Stat3 in prostate cancer cells increase resistance to enzalutamide.

Experimental design: Sensitivity of prostate cancer cells to enzalutamide was tested using cell growth assays and clonogenic assays. Quantitative reverse transcription-PCR, ELISA, and Western blotting were performed to detect expression levels of IL-6, c-Myc, survivin, and AR. Expression of Stat3 was downregulated using siRNA specific to Stat3. ChIP assay was performed to examine recruitment of AR to the PSA promoter.

Results: Prostate cancer cells expressing autocrine IL-6 are resistant to enzalutamide and autocrine IL-6 leads to constitutive activation of Stat3 and its target genes. Down regulation of Stat3 led to an increase in sensitivity of prostate cancer cells to enzalutamide. Overexpression of constitutively active Stat3 in prostate cancer cells induced resistance to enzalutamide treatment. Constitutively active Stat3 also enhanced the recruitment of AR to PSA promoter which could not be disrupted by enzalutamide. The Stat3 inhibitor AG490 reversed enzalutamide resistance in prostate cancer cells, while combination treatment with enzalutamide and AG490 significantly inhibited cell growth and induced cell apoptosis.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates that the autocrine IL-6 pathway induces enzalutamide resistance in prostate cancer cells via the constitutive activation of Stat3. Co-targeting IL6-Stat3 pathway with enzalutamide may be utilized for treatment of advanced prostate cancer.

Keywords: Interleukin-6; Stat3; enzalutamide; prostate cancer.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Benzamides
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Down-Regulation / drug effects
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / drug effects*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism
  • Male
  • Nitriles
  • Phenylthiohydantoin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Phenylthiohydantoin / pharmacology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / pharmacology
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / drug effects
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Tyrphostins / pharmacology


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Benzamides
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Interleukin-6
  • Nitriles
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • STAT3 protein, human
  • Tyrphostins
  • alpha-cyano-(3,4-dihydroxy)-N-benzylcinnamide
  • Phenylthiohydantoin
  • enzalutamide