Human prostate tumor growth in athymic mice: inhibition by androgens and stimulation by finasteride

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Oct 15;93(21):11802-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.93.21.11802.


When the human prostate cancer cell line, LNCaP 104-S, the growth of which is stimulated by physiological levels of androgen, is cultured in androgen-depleted medium for > 100 passages, the cells, now called LNCaP 104-R2, are proliferatively repressed by low concentrations of androgens. LNCaP 104-R2 cells formed tumors in castrated male athymic nude mice. Testosterone propionate (TP) treatment prevented LNCaP 104-R2 tumor growth and caused regression of established tumors in these mice. Such a tumor-suppressive effect was not observed with tumors derived from LNCaP 104-S cells or androgen receptor-negative human prostate cancer PC-3 cells. 5 alpha-Dihydrotestosterone, but not 5 beta-dihydrotestosterone, 17 beta-estradiol, or medroxyprogesterone acetate, also inhibited LNCaP 104-R2 tumor growth. Removal of TP or implantation of finasteride, a 5 alpha-reductase inhibitor, in nude mice bearing TP implants resulted in the regrowth of LNCaP 104-R2 tumors. Within 1 week after TP implantation, LNCaP 104-R2 tumors exhibited massive necrosis with severe hemorrhage. Three weeks later, these tumors showed fibrosis with infiltration of chronic inflammatory cells and scattered carcinoma cells exhibiting degeneration. TP treatment of mice with LNCaP 104-R2 tumors reduced tumor androgen receptor and c-myc mRNA levels but increased prostate-specific antigen in serum- and prostate-specific antigen mRNA in tumors. Although androgen ablation has been the standard treatment for metastatic prostate cancer for > 50 years, our study shows that androgen supplementation therapy may be beneficial for treatment of certain types of human prostate cancer and that the use of 5 alpha-reductase inhibitors, such as finasteride or anti-androgens, in the general treatment of metastatic prostate cancer may require careful assessment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Androgen-Binding Protein / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Androgen-Binding Protein / biosynthesis
  • Animals
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Line
  • DNA Primers
  • Dihydrotestosterone / pharmacology*
  • Drug Implants
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Estradiol / pharmacology
  • Finasteride / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medroxyprogesterone Acetate / pharmacology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Orchiectomy
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / blood
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / blood
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Testosterone / administration & dosage
  • Testosterone / blood
  • Testosterone / pharmacology*
  • Time Factors
  • Transplantation, Heterologous


  • Androgen-Binding Protein
  • DNA Primers
  • Drug Implants
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Dihydrotestosterone
  • Testosterone
  • Estradiol
  • Finasteride
  • Medroxyprogesterone Acetate
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen