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Intracrine androgens and AKR1C3 activation confer resistance to enzalutamide in prostate cancer
Liu C, Lou W, Zhu Y, Yang JC, Nadiminty N, Gaikwad NW, et al.
Cancer Res 2015 Apr 1;75(7):1413-22.
The introduction of enzalutamide and abiraterone has led to improvement in the treatment of metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. However, acquired resistance to enzalutamide and abiraterone therapies frequently develops within a short period in many patients. In the present study, we developed enzalutamide-resistant prostate cancer cells in an effort to understand the mechanisms of resistance. Global gene-expression analysis showed that the steroid biosynthesis pathway is activated in enzalutamide-resistant prostate cancer cells. One of the crucial steroidogenic enzymes, AKR1C3, was significantly elevated in enzalutamide-resistant cells. In addition, AKR1C3 is highly expressed in metastatic and recurrent prostate cancer and in enzalutamide-resistant prostate xenograft tumors. LC/MS analysis of the steroid metabolites revealed that androgen precursors such as cholesterol, DHEA and progesterone, as well as androgens are highly upregulated in enzalutamide-resistant prostate cancer cells compared to the parental cells. Knockdown of AKR1C3 expression by shRNA or inhibition of AKR1C3 enzymatic activity by indomethacin resensitized enzalutamide-resistant prostate cancer cells to enzalutamide treatment both in vitro and in vivo. In contrast, overexpression of AKR1C3 confers resistance to enzalutamide. Furthermore, the combination of indomethacin and enzalutamide resulted in significant inhibition of enzalutamide-resistant tumor growth. These results suggest that AKR1C3 activation is a critical resistance mechanism associated with enzalutamide resistance; targeting intracrine androgens and AKR1C3 will overcome enzalutamide resistance and improve survival of advanced prostate cancer patients.