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Clin Cancer Res. 2009 Jan 1;15(1):39-47. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-08-1726.

In vivo knockdown of the androgen receptor results in growth inhibition and regression of well-established, castration-resistant prostate tumors.

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Prostate Center at Vancouver General Hospital and Department of Urologic Sciences, University of British Columbia, British Columbia, Canada.



Progression to the castration-resistant state is the incurable and lethal end stage of prostate cancer, and there is strong evidence that androgen receptor (AR) still plays a central role in this process. We hypothesize that knocking down AR will have a major effect on inhibiting growth of castration-resistant tumors.


Castration-resistant C4-2 human prostate cancer cells stably expressing a tetracycline-inducible AR-targeted short hairpin RNA (shRNA) were generated to directly test the effects of AR knockdown in C4-2 human prostate cancer cells and tumors.


In vitro expression of AR shRNA resulted in decreased levels of AR mRNA and protein, decreased expression of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), reduced activation of the PSA-luciferase reporter, and growth inhibition of C4-2 cells. Gene microarray analyses revealed that AR knockdown under hormone-deprived conditions resulted in activation of genes involved in apoptosis, cell cycle regulation, protein synthesis, and tumorigenesis. To ensure that tumors were truly castration-resistant in vivo, inducible AR shRNA expressing C4-2 tumors were grown in castrated mice to an average volume of 450 mm(3). In all of the animals, serum PSA decreased, and in 50% of them, there was complete tumor regression and disappearance of serum PSA.


Whereas castration is ineffective in castration-resistant prostate tumors, knockdown of AR can decrease serum PSA, inhibit tumor growth, and frequently cause tumor regression. This study is the first direct evidence that knockdown of AR is a viable therapeutic strategy for treatment of prostate tumors that have already progressed to the castration-resistant state.

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