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Endocr Relat Cancer. 2011 Jul 4;18(4):R103-23. doi: 10.1530/ERC-10-0343. Print 2011 Aug.

Pathways of chemotherapy resistance in castration-resistant prostate cancer.

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  • 1Department of Medical Oncology, Sydney Cancer Centre, Missenden Road, Camperdown, New South Wales 2050, Australia.


Chemotherapy remains the major treatment option for castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) and limited cytotoxic options are available. Inherent chemotherapy resistance occurs in half of all patients and inevitably develops even in those who initially respond. Docetaxel has been the mainstay of therapy for 6 years, providing a small survival benefit at the cost of significant toxicity. Cabazitaxel is a promising second-line agent; however, it is no less toxic, whereas mitoxantrone provides only symptomatic benefit. Multiple cellular pathways involving apoptosis, inflammation, angiogenesis, signalling intermediaries, drug efflux pumps and tubulin are implicated in the development of chemoresistance. A thorough understanding of these pathways is needed to identify biomarkers that predict chemotherapy resistance with the aim to avoid unwarranted toxicities in patients who will not benefit from treatment. Until recently, the search for predictive biomarkers has been disappointing; however, the recent discovery of macrophage inhibitory cytokine 1 as a marker of chemoresistance may herald a new era of biomarker discovery in CRPC. Understanding the interface between this complex array of chemoresistance pathways rather than their study in isolation will be required to effectively predict response and target the late stages of advanced disease. The pre-clinical evidence for these resistance pathways and their progress through clinical trials as therapeutic targets is reviewed in this study.

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