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Varinder Jeet, Gregor Tevz, Melanie Lehman, Brett Hollier, and Colleen Nelson

Chitinase 3-like 1 (CHI3L1 or YKL40) is a secreted glycoprotein highly expressed in tumours from patients with advanced stage cancers, including prostate cancer (PCa). The exact function of YKL40 is poorly understood, but it has been shown to play an important role in promoting tumour angiogenesis and metastasis. The therapeutic value and biological function of YKL40 are unknown in PCa. The objective of this study was to examine the expression and function of YKL40 in PCa. Gene expression analysis demonstrated that YKL40 was highly expressed in metastatic PCa cells when compared with less invasive and normal prostate epithelial cell lines. In addition, the expression was primarily limited to androgen receptor-positive cell lines. Evaluation of YKL40 tissue expression in PCa patients showed a progressive increase in patients with aggressive disease when compared with those with less aggressive cancers and normal controls. Treatment of LNCaP and C4-2B cells with androgens increased YKL40 expression, whereas treatment with an anti-androgen agent decreased the gene expression of YKL40 in androgen-sensitive LNCaP cells. Furthermore, knockdown of YKL40 significantly decreased invasion and migration of PCa cells, whereas overexpression rendered them more invasive and migratory, which was commensurate with an enhancement in the anchorage-independent growth of cells. To our knowledge, this study characterises the role of YKL40 for the first time in PCa. Together, these results suggest that YKL40 plays an important role in PCa progression and thus inhibition of YKL40 may be a potential therapeutic strategy for the treatment of PCa.

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Lisa K Philp, Anja Rockstroh, Martin C Sadowski, Atefeh Taherian Fard, Melanie Lehman, Gregor Tevz, Michelle S Libério, Charles L Bidgood, Jennifer H Gunter, Stephen McPherson, Nenad Bartonicek, John D Wade, Laszlo Otvos, and Colleen C Nelson

Hyperleptinaemia is a well-established therapeutic side effect of drugs inhibiting the androgen axis in prostate cancer (PCa), including main stay androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) and androgen targeted therapies (ATT). Given significant crossover between the adipokine hormone signalling of leptin and multiple cancer-promoting hallmark pathways, including growth, proliferation, migration, angiogenesis, metabolism and inflammation, targeting the leptin axis is therapeutically appealing, especially in advanced PCa where current therapies fail to be curative. In this study, we uncover leptin as a novel universal target in PCa and are the first to highlight increased intratumoural leptin and leptin receptor (LEPR) expression in PCa cells and patients' tumours exposed to androgen deprivation, as is observed in patients' tumours of metastatic and castrate resistant (CRPC) PCa. We also reveal the world-first preclinical evidence that demonstrates marked efficacy of targeted leptin-signalling blockade, using Allo-aca, a potent, specific, and safe LEPR peptide antagonist. Allo-aca-suppressed tumour growth and delayed progression to CRPC in mice bearing LNCaP xenografts, with reduced tumour vascularity and altered pathways of apoptosis, transcription/translation, and energetics in tumours determined as potential mechanisms underpinning anti-tumour efficacy. We highlight LEPR blockade in combination with androgen axis inhibition represents a promising new therapeutic strategy vital in advanced PCa treatment.