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Nicholas Russell, Ada Cheung and Mathis Grossmann

Prostate cancer (PCa) is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in men. Conventional endocrine treatment for PCa leads to global sex steroid deprivation. The ensuing severe hypogonadism is associated with well-documented adverse effects. Recently, it has become apparent that many of the biological actions attributed to androgens in men are in fact not direct, but mediated by estradiol. Available evidence supports a primary role for estradiol in vasomotor stability, skeletal maturation and maintenance, and prevention of fat accumulation. Hence there has been interest in revisiting estradiol as a treatment for PCa. Potential roles for estradiol could be in lieu of conventional androgen deprivation therapy or as low-dose add-back treatment while continuing androgen deprivation therapy. These strategies may limit some of the side effects associated with conventional androgen deprivation therapy. However, although available data are reassuring, the potential for cardiovascular risk and pro-carcinogenic effects on PCa via estrogen receptor signalling must be considered.

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Ada S Cheung, Jeffrey D Zajac and Mathis Grossmann

Prostate cancer and treatment with androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) affect significant numbers of the male population. Endocrine effects of ADT are a critical consideration in balancing the benefits and risks of treatment on long-term survival and quality of life. This review highlights the latest advances in androgen manipulation in prostate cancer with an emphasis on the effects of ADT on muscle and bone, which universally affects the health and well-being of men undergoing ADT for prostate cancer. Muscle mass declines with ADT; however, the evidence that this correlates with a decrease in muscle strength or a decrease in physical performance is discordant. Cortical bone decay also occurs in association with an increase in fracture risk, hence optimization of musculoskeletal health in men undergoing ADT is crucial. The role of exercise, and current and emerging anabolic therapies for muscle as well as various new strategies to prevent loss of bone mass in men undergoing ADT are discussed. Future well-designed, prospective, controlled studies are required to elucidate the effects of ADT on physical performance, which are currently lacking, and larger randomized controlled trials are required to test the efficacy of medical therapies and exercise interventions to target proven deficits and to ensure safety in men with prostate cancer.

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Casey de Rooy, Mathis Grossmann, Jeffrey D Zajac and Ada S Cheung

Androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) is a highly effective treatment used in ∼30% of men with prostate cancer. Adverse effects of ADT on muscle are significant with consistent losses in muscle mass. However, effects of ADT on muscle strength and physical function, of most relevance to the patient, are less well understood. This is in part due to the fact that muscle effects of ADT at the cellular, genetic and protein level, critical to the understanding of the pathophysiology of sarcopenia, have come into focus only recently. This review highlights the complexity of androgen-dependent signaling in muscle with an emphasis on recent findings in the regulation of muscle growth and muscle atrophy pathways. Furthermore, the effects of ADT and testosterone on skeletal muscle histology, gene expression and protein transcription are discussed. A better mechanistic understanding of the regulation of muscle mass and function by androgens should not only pave the way for developing targeted promyogenic interventions for men with prostate cancer receiving ADT but also may have wider implications for age-associated sarcopenia in the general population.