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Mol Cancer. 2011 May 3;10:49. doi: 10.1186/1476-4598-10-49.

MDM2 antagonists boost antitumor effect of androgen withdrawal: implications for therapy of prostate cancer.

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Discovery Oncology, Roche Research Center, Hoffmann-La Roche Inc., Nutley, NJ 07110, USA.



Hormone therapy is the standard of care for newly diagnosed or recurrent prostate cancers. It uses anti-androgen agents, castration, or both to eliminate cancer promoting effect of testicular androgen. The p53 tumor suppressor controls a major pathway that can block cell proliferation or induce apoptosis in response to diverse forms of oncogenic stress. Activation of the p53 pathway in cancer cells expressing wild-type p53 has been proposed as a novel therapeutic strategy and recently developed MDM2 antagonists, the nutlins, have validated this in preclinical models of cancer. The crosstalk between p53 and androgen receptor (AR) signaling suggest that p53 activation could augment antitumor outcome of androgen ablation in prostate cancer. Here, we test this hypothesis in vitro and in vivo using the MDM2 antagonist, nutlin-3 and the p53 wild-type prostate cancer cell line, LNCaP.


Using charcoal-stripped serum as a cellular model of androgen deprivation, we show an increased apoptotic effect of p53 activation by nutlin-3a in the androgen-dependent LNCaP cells and to a lesser extent in androgen-independent but responsive 22Rv1 cell line. This effect is due, at least in part, to an enhanced downregulation of AR expression by activated p53. In vivo, androgen deprivation followed by two weeks of nutlin administration in LNCaP-bearing nude mice led to a greater tumor regression and dramatically increased survival.


Since majority of prostate tumors express wild-type p53, its activation by MDM2 antagonists in combination with androgen depletion may offer an efficacious new approach to prostate cancer therapy.

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