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J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2014 Sep;143:19-28. doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2014.02.006. Epub 2014 Feb 22.

Pomegranate extracts impact the androgen biosynthesis pathways in prostate cancer models in vitro and in vivo.

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Vancouver Prostate Centre, Department of Urologic Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Vancouver Prostate Centre, Department of Urologic Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Electronic address:


Castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) remains largely dependent on androgen receptor (AR). Residual tissue androgens are consistently detected within CRPC tumors and play a critical role in facilitating AR-mediated signaling pathways which lead to disease progression. Testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) are the major androgens detected in tumors. They are produced through three biosynthesis pathways: Δ(4), Δ(5), and backdoor pathways. Both androgens bind to and stimulate AR activation. The current study investigates the effects of pomegranate extracts (POM) and their ability to inhibit androgen biosynthesis using PCa cell lines (22RV1 and LNCaP) in vitro as well as the PTEN knockout mouse model representing prostate cancer. Steroids were extracted using ethyl acetate or solid phase extraction, and then analyzed by UPLC/MS/MS. The results showed that POM (0-12μg/mL) reduced the production of testosterone, DHT, DHEA, androstenedione, androsterone, and pregnenolone in both cell lines. In addition our in vivo data supports this observation with a reduction in serum steroids determined after 20 weeks of POM treatment (0.17 g/L in drinking water). In accordance with these results, Western blotting of cell lysates and tPSA analysis determined that PSA was significantly decreased by the treatment of POM. Interestingly, AKR1C3 and AR levels were shown to be increased in both cell lines, perhaps as a negative feedback effect in response to steroid inhibition. Overall, these results provide mechanistic evidence to support the rationale for recent clinical reports describing efficacy of POM in CRPC patients.


Androgen biosynthesis; Dihydrotestosterone; Pomegranate extracts; Prostate cancer; Testosterone; UPLC/MS/MS analysis

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