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Prostate cancer is very frequent and is, in many countries, the third-leading cause of cancer related death in men. While early diagnosis and treatment by surgical removal is often curative, metastasizing prostate cancer has a very bad prognosis. Based on the androgen-dependence of prostate epithelial cells, the standard treatment is blockade of the androgen receptor (AR). However, nearly all patients suffer from a tumor relapse as the metastasizing cells become AR-independent.
In our study we show a counter-regulatory link between AR and NF-κB both in human cells and in mouse models of prostate cancer, implying that inhibition of AR signaling results in induction of NF-κB-dependent inflammatory pathways, which may even foster the survival of metastasizing cells.
This could be shown by reporter gene assays, DNA-binding measurements, and immune-fluorescence microscopy, and furthermore by a whole set of computational methods using a variety of datasets. Interestingly, loss of PTEN, a frequent genetic alteration in prostate cancer, also causes an upregulation of NF-κB and inflammatory activity.
Finally, we present a mathematical model of a dynamic network between AR, NF-κB/IκB, PI3K/PTEN, and the oncogene c-Myc, which indicates that AR blockade may upregulate c-Myc together with NF-κB, and that combined anti-AR/anti-NF-κB and anti-PI3K treatment might be beneficial.
J. Basílio, B. Hochreiter, B. Hoesel, E. Sheshori, M. Mussbacher, R. Hanel, J. A. Schmid, Antagonistic Functions of Androgen Receptor and NF-κB in Prostate Cancer—Experimental and Computational Analyses, Cancers 14(4) (2022) 6164.