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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2011 Apr;337(1):24-32. doi: 10.1124/jpet.110.177246. Epub 2011 Jan 4.

Novel oligomeric proanthocyanidin derivatives interact with membrane androgen sites and induce regression of hormone-independent prostate cancer.

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Laboratory of Experimental Endocrinology, University of Crete, School of Medicine, Heraklion, Greece.


Prostate cancer is the most common malignancy among men in Western societies, and current therapeutic approaches are evolving to manage growth, recurrence, and mortality neoplasia. Membrane androgen receptors (mARs) have been characterized in human prostate cancer, being preferentially expressed in tumor rather than benign gland areas. Furthermore, mAR agonists (protein-conjugated testosterone) decrease in vitro prostate cancer cell growth and induce apoptosis, whereas in vivo they regress growth of tumor xenografts alone or in combination with taxane drugs. In this respect, targeting mARs might be a novel therapeutic approach in prostate cancer. In our search for new small-molecule ligands of mAR, we report that flavanol dimers B1-B4 (oligomeric procyanidins) decrease in vitro growth of the androgen-sensitive (LnCaP) and androgen-resistant (DU145) human prostate cancer cell lines in the following order: B3 = B4 > B2 ≫ B1 (LnCaP) and B2 ≫ B3 = B4 ≫ B1 (DU145). Some of these analogs were previously shown to trigger signaling cascades similar to testosterone-bovine serum albumin (BSA) conjugate. Galloylation does not confer an additional advantage; however, oleylation increases the dimers' antiproliferative potency by a factor of 100. In addition, we report that B2, oleylated or not, displaces testosterone from mARs with an IC(50) value at the nanomolar range and induces DU145 tumor xenograft regression by 50% (testosterone-BSA 40%). In this respect, oleylated B2 is a potent small-molecule agonist of mAR and could be a novel therapeutic agent for advanced prostate cancer, especially when taking into account the absence of androgenic actions and (liver) toxicity.

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