Androgens and the control of lipid metabolism in human prostate cancer cells

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1998 Apr;65(1-6):191-8. doi: 10.1016/s0960-0760(97)00187-8.


Since the development of endocrine therapy for the treatment of prostate cancer, now more than 50 years ago, androgens have been known to play a major role in the regulation of various aspects of the biology of prostate cancer cells. Recently, using the human prostate cancer cell line LNCaP as an experimental paradigm of androgen-sensitive prostate cancer cells, we demonstrated that, apart from their effects on cell proliferation and protein secretion, androgens also induce a marked accumulation of cytoplasmic lipid droplets. The accumulating lipids (triacylglycerols and cholesteryl esters) are at least in part synthesized de novo, suggesting that androgens modulate the expression and/or activity of enzymes involved in lipogenesis. One key lipogenic enzyme that we have shown to be affected by androgens is fatty acid synthase (FAS), a complex multifunctional enzyme that plays a central role in the synthesis of fatty acids and that recently has been shown to be overexpressed in a variety of cancers, including prostate cancer. Interestingly, the influence of androgens on lipogenic enzymes is not restricted to FAS alone. Several other enzymes involved in the same metabolic pathway of fatty acid synthesis are affected as well, as are several key enzymes leading to the synthesis of cholesterol. These findings are reminiscent of the coordinate control of lipogenic enzymes by the recently characterized sterol regulatory element binding proteins (SREBPs) and suggest that androgens might not (only) act directly on the expression of all these genes individually, but rather affect the expression and/or activity of these or other transcription factors involved in the regulation of lipogenic enzymes. Ongoing studies in our laboratory support this concept and provide evidence for the existence of a novel cascade mechanism of androgen action. In view of the recent interest in the prognostic significance of lipogenic enzymes and their potential role as targets for antineoplastic therapy, our findings on the regulation of lipogenic enzymes by androgens not only provide novel insights into the complex mechanisms by which androgens affect prostate cancer cells, but may also open new avenues for diagnosis and therapy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Androgens / pharmacology*
  • Fatty Acid Synthases / biosynthesis
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Male
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Androgens
  • Fatty Acid Synthases