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Free access

Atsushi Mizokami, Eitetsu Koh, Kouji Izumi, Kazutaka Narimoto, Masashi Takeda, Seijiro Honma, Jinlu Dai, Evan T Keller and Mikio Namiki

One of the mechanisms through which advanced prostate cancer (PCa) usually relapses after androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) is the adaptation to residual androgens in PCa tissue. It has been observed that androgen biosynthesis in PCa tissue plays an important role in this adaptation. In the present study, we investigated how stromal cells affect adrenal androgen dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) metabolism in androgen-sensitive PCa LNCaP cells. DHEA alone had little effect on prostate-specific antigen (PSA) promoter activity and the proliferation of LNCaP cells. However, the addition of prostate stromal cells or PCa-derived stromal cells (PCaSC) increased DHEA-induced PSA promoter activity via androgen receptor activation in the LNCaP cells. Moreover, PCaSC stimulated the proliferation of LNCaP cells under physiological concentrations of DHEA. Biosynthesis of testosterone or dihydrotestosterone from DHEA in stromal cells and LNCaP cells was involved in this stimulation of LNCaP cell proliferation. Androgen biosynthesis from DHEA depended upon the activity of various steroidogenic enzymes present in stromal cells. Finally, the dual 5α-reductase inhibitor dutasteride appears to function not only as a 5α-reductase inhibitor but also as a 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase inhibitor in LNCaP cells. Taken together, this coculture assay system provides new insights of coordinate androgen biosynthesis under the microenvironment of PCa cells before and after ADT, and offers a model system for the identification of important steroidogenic enzymes involved in PCa progression and for the development of the corresponding inhibitors of androgen biosynthesis.

Free access

P E Goss

Third-generation aromatase inhibitors are able to reduce circulating plasma estrogen concentrations in postmenopausal women to below detectable limits and significantly inhibit aromatase, the enzyme responsible for estrogen synthesis, in normal breast tissue and breast tumors. Their role in the treatment of advanced breast cancer is well established and their use in adjuvant therapy is currently being explored. On the basis of these trials, evaluation of these inhibitors in the prevention of breast cancer may be appropriate. Aromatase inhibitors have non-specific toxic side effects including (but not limited to): asthenia, headache, nausea, peripheral edema, fatigue, vomiting and dyspepsia. In addition, certain endocrinological side effects in postmenopausal women are notable, namely hot flushes and vaginal dryness. In advanced breast cancer, these side effects result in treatment withdrawal in few (<4%) women. Of concern, however, are the potential long-term endocrinological side effects in women receiving treatment as first-line adjuvant therapy or in sequence or combination with tamoxifen or other selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs). Current studies of adjuvant treatments for breast cancer in healthy women are carefully evaluating, in addition to general toxicities, the effects on bone, lipid metabolism, cardiovascular risk, quality of life and menopausal symptoms. Careful evaluation of all-cause morbidity and mortality is necessary to plan trials and justify long-term use of aromatase inhibitors in the treatment or prevention of breast cancer in healthy women.

Free access

Keely M McNamara, Nicole L Moore, Theresa E Hickey, Hironobu Sasano and Wayne D Tilley

While the clinical benefit of androgen-based therapeutics in breast cancer has been known since the 1940s, we have only recently begun to fully understand the mechanisms of androgen action in breast cancer. Androgen signalling pathways can have either beneficial or deleterious effects in breast cancer depending on the breast cancer subtype and intracellular context. This review discusses our current knowledge of androgen signalling in breast cancer, including the relationship between serum androgens and breast cancer risk, the prognostic significance of androgen receptor (AR) expression in different breast cancer subtypes and the downstream molecular pathways mediating androgen action in breast cancer cells. Intracrine androgen metabolism has also been discussed and proposed as a potential mechanism that may explain some of the reported differences regarding dichotomous androgen actions in breast cancers. A better understanding of AR signalling in this disease is critical given the current resurgence in interest in utilising contemporary AR-directed therapies for breast cancer and the need for biomarkers that will accurately predict clinical response.

Restricted access

Zhi Long, Yinan Li, Yu Gan, Dongyu Zhao, Guangyu Wang, Ning Xie, Jessica M Lovnicki, Ladan Fazli, Qi Cao, Kaifu Chen and Xuesen Dong

Homeobox A10 (HOXA10) is an important transcription factor that regulates the development of the prostate gland. However, it remains unknown whether it modulates prostate cancer (PCa) progression into castrate-resistant stages. In this study, we have applied RNA in situ hybridization assays to demonstrate that downregulation of HOXA10 expression is associated with castrate-resistant PCa. These findings are supported by public RNA-seq data showing that reduced HOXA10 expression is correlated with poor patient survival. We show that HOXA10 suppresses PCa cell proliferation, anchorage colony formation and xenograft growth independent to androgens. Using AmpliSeq transcriptome sequencing, we have found that gene groups associated with lipid metabolism and androgen receptor (AR) signaling are enriched in the HOXA10 transcriptome. Furthermore, we demonstrate that HOXA10 suppresses the transcription of the fatty acid synthase (FASN) gene by forming a protein complex with AR and prevents AR recruitment to the FASN gene promoter. These results lead us to conclude that downregulation of HOXA10 gene expression may enhance lipogenesis to promote PCa cell growth and tumor progression to castrate-resistant stage.

Free access

N Angelopoulos, V Barbounis, S Livadas, D Kaltsas and G Tolis

Breast cancer is one of the main life-threatening diseases that a woman may have to face during her lifetime. The increasing incidence of breast neoplasia reported over the last few decades has led to widespread screening of women resulting in early diagnosis. One common but challenging question for most doctors, after the surgical excision of the lesion, is determination of the ideal adjuvant therapy for their patients for the achievement of maximum life expectancy with the best quality of life.

Since the beginning of the last century, the knowledge that breast cancer arises from hormone-responsive tissues has long made use of hormone-blocking agents in the beneficial treatment of breast neoplasia. The discovery of new molecules with endocrine actions has rendered the use of adjuvant therapy in a tailor-made pattern too complicated, as these agents have a different mode of action, different adverse effects and probably different indications.

The aim of the present review is to clarify these issues, analyzing the mechanism of action of available drugs and their actions on specific areas of uncertainty: cognitive function, cardiovascular system, urogenital tract, bone metabolism, weight gain, hot flushes and premature menopause. Regarding the efficacy of adjuvant therapy, there has been particular focus on the multiple hormonal-induced consequences of each regimen in order to provide the clinician with the available data for choosing the ideal therapy for the patient.

Open access

Sung Gwe Ahn, Chang Ik Yoon, Jae Hoon Lee, Hye Sun Lee, So Eun Park, Yoon Jin Cha, Chihwan Cha, Soong June Bae, Kyung-A Lee and Joon Jeong

On the basis of TP53 mutations and standardized uptake values (SUVs) from 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (18F-FDG-PET), we sought to enhance our knowledge of the biology underlying low progesterone receptor (PR) expression in estrogen receptor (ER)-positive/human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER2)-negative tumors. This study included 272 patients surgically treated for ER-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer and who had undergone TP53 gene sequencing. Of these, 229 patients also underwent 18F-FDG PET or PET/CT. Mutational analysis of exons 5–9 of the TP53 gene was conducted using PCR amplification and direct sequencing. The SUVs were measured using 18F-FDG-PET scan images. Twenty-eight (10.3%) tumors had a somatic TP53 mutation. The TP53 mutation rate was significantly higher in low-PR tumors than in high-PR tumors (17.1% vs 7.9%, P = 0.039). Low-PR tumors had significantly higher median SUVs than high-PR tumors (P = 0.046). The multivariable analysis revealed that SUV and age remained independent variables associated with low PR expression. An adverse impact of low PR expression on recurrence-free survival was observed in the multivariable Cox regression hazard model. We provide clinical evidence that genetic alteration of the TP53 gene and dysregulated glucose metabolism partly involve low PR expression in ER-positive and HER2-negative breast cancer.

Free access

Lars C Moeller and Dagmar Führer

Thyroid hormones (THs) may play a role in diseases other than hyper- and hypothyroidism. Several lines of evidence suggest tumor-promoting effects of TH and TH receptors. They are possibly mediated by phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase and MAPK and involve among others stimulation of angiogenesis via αvβ3. Thus, an increased risk for colon, lung, prostate, and breast cancer with lower TSH has been demonstrated in epidemiological studies, even suggesting a TH dose effect on cancer occurrence. Furthermore, higher TH levels were associated with an advanced clinical stage of breast and prostate cancer. In rodent models, TH stimulated growth and metastasis of tumor transplants, whereas hypothyroidism had opposite effects. In clinical studies of glioblastoma and head and neck cancer, hypothyroid patients showed longer survival than euthyroid patients. Also, patients with renal cell cancer that were treated with the tyrosine kinase inhibitor sunitinib and developed hypothyroidism in due course showed significantly longer survival than patients that remained euthyroid. Development of hypothyroidism was an independent predictor for survival in two studies. Yet, it is still possible that hypothyroidism is only a surrogate marker for treatment efficacy and does not positively influence treatment outcome by itself. Future cancer treatment studies, especially with substances that can induce hypothyroidism, should therefore be designed in a way that allows for an analysis of thyroid function status and its contribution on treatment outcome.

Free access

Isabelle Laverdière, Christine Flageole, Étienne Audet-Walsh, Patrick Caron, Yves Fradet, Louis Lacombe, Éric Lévesque and Chantal Guillemette

The prognostic significance of common deletions in uridine diphospho-glucuronosyltransferase 2B (UGT2B) genes encoding sex steroid metabolic enzymes has been recently recognized in localized prostate cancer (PCa) after radical prostatectomy (RP). However, the role of germline variations at the UGT1 locus, encoding half of all human UGTs and primarily involved in estrogen metabolism, remains unexplored. We investigated whether variants of UGT1 are potential prognostic markers. We studied 526 Caucasian men who underwent RP for clinically localized PCa. Genotypes of patients for 34 haplotype-tagged single-nucleotide polymorphisms (htSNPs) and 11 additional SNPs across the UGT1 locus previously reported to mark common variants including functional polymorphisms were determined. The risk of biochemical recurrence (BCR) was estimated using adjusted Cox proportional hazards regression and Kaplan–Meier analysis. We further investigated whether variants are associated with plasma hormone levels by mass spectrometry. In multivariable models, seven htSNPs were found to be significantly associated with BCR. A greater risk was revealed for four UGT1 intronic variants with hazard ratios (HRs) of 1.59–1.88 (P<0.002) for htSNPs in UGT1A10, UGT 1A9, and UGT1A6. Conversely, decreased BCR was associated with three htSNPs in introns of UGT1A10 and UGT1A9 (HR=0.56–058; P≤0.01). An unfavorable UGT1 haplotype comprising all risk alleles, with a frequency of 14%, had a HR of 1.68 (95% CI=1.13–2.50; P=0.011). Significant alteration in circulating androsterone levels was associated with this haplotype, consistent with changes in hormonal exposure. This study provides the first evidence, to our knowledge, that germline polymorphisms of UGT1 are potential predictors of recurrence of PCa after prostatectomy.

Free access

G Ventrucci, M A R Mello and M C C Gomes-Marcondes

Leucine can modulate skeletal muscle metabolism by enhancing protein synthesis and decreasing proteolysis. In this study, we investigated the effects of leucine on the ubiquitin–proteasome system in skeletal muscle of pregnant tumour-bearing rats fed a leucine-rich diet. Pregnant Wistar rats were distributed into three groups that were fed a semi-purified control diet (C, control; W, Walker tumour-bearing; P, pair-fed) and three other groups of pregnant rats fed a semi-purified leucine-rich diet (L, leucine; WL, Walker tumour-bearing; PL, pair-fed). The tumour-bearing rats were injected subcutaneously with a suspension of Walker 256 tumour cells. Protein synthesis and degradation were measured in gastrocnemius muscle; the total protein content and tissue chymotrypsin-like and alkaline phosphatase enzyme activities were also determined. Muscle protein extracts were run on SDS-PAGE to assess the expression of the myosin heavy chain (MHC), 20S α proteasome subunit, 19S MSSI ATPase regulator subunit and 11S α subunit. Although tumour growth decreased the incorporation of [3H]-Phe, the concomitant feeding of a leucine-rich diet increased the rate of protein synthesis. Muscle proteolysis in both tumour-bearing groups was increased more than in the respective control groups. Conversely, the leucine-rich diet caused less protein breakdown in the WL group than in the W group. Only the W group showed a significant reduction (71%) in the myosin content. In WL rats, the 20S proteasome content (32 kDa band) was reduced, while the expression of the 19S subunit was 3-fold less than in the W group and the 11S proteasome subunit reduced, to around 32% less than in the W group. These findings clearly indicate that leucine can stimulate protein synthesis and inhibit protein breakdown in pregnant rats, probably by modulating the activation of the ubiquitin–proteasome system during tumour growth.

Free access

D J Liao and R B Dickson

Ever since Bishop and his co-workers discovered the c-myc gene in the late 1970s (Bishop 1982), voluminous literature has documented its central role in proliferation and malignant transformation of human and animal cells (Amati et al. 1998, Bouchard et al. 1998, Dang et al. 1999). Most, if not all, types of human malignancy have been reported to have amplification and/or overexpression of this gene, although the frequency of these alterations varies greatly among different reports (Nesbit et al. 1999). In 1992, researchers started to realize that aberrant expression of c-myc could cause apoptosis (Evan et al. 1992, Shi et al. 1992), although the phenomenon had actually been observed much earlier (Wurm et al. 1986). Studies in recent years have further shown that the c-myc gene regulates growth, both in the sense of cell size and in the context of tissue differentiation (Gandarillas & Watt 1997, Iritani & Eisenman 1999, Johnston et al. 1999, Schmidt 1999, Schuhmacher et al. 1999). Thus, it is now known that the c-myc gene participates in most aspects of cellular function, including replication, growth, metabolism, differentiation, and apoptosis (Packham & Cleveland 1995, Hoffman & Liebermann 1998, Dang 1999, Dang et al. 1999, Elend & Eilers 1999, Prendergast 1999). How the c-Myc protein may be specifically directed to perform one, but not the others, of these functions is still obscure, despite the fact that the relevant literature has been accumulating at a fast pace in the past two decades. This review focuses on the profound roles of c-Myc in breast cancer and in the actions of the hormones that are eitologically related to breast cancer.