An imaging agent to detect androgen receptor and its active splice variants in prostate cancer

JCI Insight. 2016 Jul 21;1(11):e87850. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.87850.


Constitutively active splice variants of androgen receptor (AR-Vs) lacking ligand-binding domain (LBD) are a mechanism of resistance to androgen receptor LBD-targeted (AR LBD-targeted) therapies for metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). There is a strong unmet clinical need to identify prostate cancer patients with AR-V-positive lesions to determine whether they will benefit from further AR LBD-targeting therapies or should receive taxanes or investigational drugs like EPI-506 or galeterone. Both EPI-506 (NCT02606123) and galeterone (NCT02438007) are in clinical trials and are proposed to have efficacy against lesions that are positive for AR-Vs. AR activation function-1 (AF-1) is common to the N-terminal domains of full-length AR and AR-Vs. Here, we provide proof of concept for developing imaging compounds that directly bind AR AF-1 to detect both AR-Vs and full-length AR. 123I-EPI-002 had specific binding to AR AF-1, which enabled direct visualization of CRPC xenografts that express full-length AR and AR-Vs. Our findings highlight the potential of 123I-EPI-002 as an imaging agent for the detection of full-length AR and AR-Vs in CRPC.