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Cancer Res. 2005 Dec 1;65(23):11083-93.

Increased Hsp27 after androgen ablation facilitates androgen-independent progression in prostate cancer via signal transducers and activators of transcription 3-mediated suppression of apoptosis.

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The Prostate Centre, Vancouver General Hospital, British Columbia, Canada.


One strategy to improve therapies in prostate cancer involves targeting cytoprotective genes activated by androgen withdrawal to delay the emergence of the androgen-independent (AI) phenotype. The objectives of this study were to define changes in Hsp27 levels after androgen ablation and to evaluate the functional relevance of these changes in AI progression. Using a tissue microarray of 232 specimens of hormone-naïve and post-hormone ablation-treated prostate cancer, we found that Hsp27 levels increase after androgen ablation to become highly expressed (>4-fold, P < or = 0.01) in AI tumors. Hsp27 overexpression rendered LNCaP cells highly resistant to androgen withdrawal both in vitro and in vivo. Tumor volume and serum prostate-specific antigen levels increased 4.3- and 10-fold faster after castration when Hsp27 was overexpressed. Treatment of LNCaP tumor cells in vitro with Hsp27 antisense oligonucleotides (ASO) or short-interfering RNA suppressed Hsp27 levels in a dose-dependent and sequence-specific manner increased the apoptotic sub-G0-G1 fraction and caspase-3 cleavage >2-fold, as well as decreased signal transducers and activators of transcription 3 (Stat3) levels and its downstream genes, c-fos and sPLA-2. The cytoprotection afforded by Hsp27 overexpression was attenuated by Stat3 knockdown using specific Stat3 ASO. Coimmunoprecipitation and immunofluorescence confirmed that Hsp27 interacts with Stat3 and that Stat3 levels correlated directly with Hsp27 levels. Hsp27 ASO treatment in athymic mice bearing LNCaP tumors significantly delayed LNCaP tumor growth after castration, decreasing mean tumor volume and serum prostate-specific antigen levels by 57% and 69%, respectively. These findings identify Hsp27 as a modulator of Stat3-regulated apoptosis after androgen ablation and as a potential therapeutic target in advanced prostate cancer.

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