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J Mol Neurosci. 2016 Mar;58(3):343-7. doi: 10.1007/s12031-015-0681-8. Epub 2015 Nov 12.

Inhibition of the Androgen Receptor by Antiandrogens in Spinobulbar Muscle Atrophy.

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Institute of Human Genetics, Jena University Hospital, 07740, Jena, Germany.


Spinal-bulbar muscle atrophy (SBMA) or also named Kennedy's Disease is caused by a polyglutamine expansion (PolyQ) of the coding region of the androgen receptor (AR). The AR is a ligand-controlled transcription factor and member of the nuclear hormone receptor superfamily. The central characteristics of the SBMA pathogenicity are muscle weakness, the loss of motoneurons and the occurrence of AR-containing protein aggregates that are observed in spinal cord motoneurons and skeletal muscles induced by the AR-PolyQ expansion in the presence of androgens. The PolyQ triggers a misfolding in the AR-PolyQ and leads to protein aggregation in spinal cord motoneurons and muscle cells. The AR-PolyQ toxicity is activated by the AR ligand testosterone and dihydrotestosterone that activate the receptor and triggers nuclear toxicity by inducing AR nuclear translocation. In line with this, androgen treatment of SBMA patients worsened the SBMA symptoms. SBMA has been modeled in AR-overexpressing and AR-PolyQ-knock-in animals, but precisely how the PolyQ expansion leads to neurodegeneration is unclear. The androgen-induced toxicity and androgen-dependent nuclear accumulation of AR-PolyQ protein seems to be central to the pathogenesis. Therefore, the inhibition of the androgen-activated AR-PolyQ might be a therapeutic option. Here the use of AR antagonists for treatment option of SBMA will be reviewed and discussed.


Kennedy’s Disease; Neurotoxicity; Polyglutamine expansion syndrome

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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