Androgen Receptor Variants Confer Castration Resistance in Prostate Cancer by Counteracting Antiandrogen-Induced Ferroptosis

Cancer Res. 2023 Oct 2;83(19):3192-3204. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-23-0285.


Androgen receptor (AR) inhibition by androgen deprivation and/or antiandrogen administration is the mainstay therapy for advanced prostate cancer. However, most prostate cancers ultimately become resistant to these therapies, indicating the importance of identifying mechanisms driving resistance to improve patient outcomes. Here we demonstrated that acute treatment with the antiandrogen enzalutamide (ENZ) decreased glutathione (GSH) production, increased lipid peroxidation, and induced ferroptosis in prostate cancer cells. Consistently, meta-analysis of transcriptomic data linked the androgen-AR axis to metabolism-related biological processes, including lipid metabolism. The cystine transporter gene SLC7A11 was a key AR target, and full-length AR (AR-FL) transactivated SLC7A11 transcription by directly occupying the SLC7A11 promoter and putative enhancer regions. AR variants (AR-V) preferentially bound the SLC7A11 enhancer and upregulated SLC7A11 expression, thereby conferring resistance to ferroptosis induced by ENZ treatment. However, this effect was abolished following downregulation of AR-Vs using the dual CBP/p300 and BET inhibitor NEO2734. These findings reveal ferroptosis induction as an anticancer mechanism of antiandrogens and SLC7A11 as a direct target gene of AR-FL and AR-Vs. AR-V-mediated SLC7A11 expression represents a mechanism coupling ferroptosis resistance to prostate cancer progression.

Significance: Upregulation of SLC7A11 can be induced by androgen receptor variants to inhibit antiandrogen-induced prostate cancer cell ferroptosis and to drive castration resistance in prostate cancer.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Androgen Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Androgens / metabolism
  • Castration
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Ferroptosis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nitriles / pharmacology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms, Castration-Resistant* / drug therapy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms, Castration-Resistant* / genetics
  • Prostatic Neoplasms, Castration-Resistant* / metabolism
  • Receptors, Androgen / genetics
  • Receptors, Androgen / metabolism


  • Receptors, Androgen
  • Androgen Antagonists
  • Androgens
  • enzalutamide
  • Nitriles