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Mol Cancer Ther. 2018 Dec;17(12):2722-2731. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-18-0508. Epub 2018 Sep 25.

The STAT3 Inhibitor Galiellalactone Reduces IL6-Mediated AR Activity in Benign and Malignant Prostate Models.

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Division of Experimental Urology, Department of Urology, Medical University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria.
Molecular Endocrinology Laboratory, Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.
Department of Pathology, Medical University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria.
Department of Urology, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Department of Urology and Pediatric Urology, University Medical Center Mainz, Mainz, Germany.
Division of Experimental Urology, Department of Urology, Medical University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria.


IL6/STAT3 signaling is associated with endocrine therapy resistance in prostate cancer, but therapies targeting this pathway in prostate cancer were unsuccessful in clinical trials so far. The mechanistic explanation for this phenomenon is currently unclear; however, IL6 has pleiotropic effects on a number of signaling pathways, including the androgen receptor (AR). Therefore, we investigated IL6-mediated AR activation in prostate cancer cell lines and ex vivo primary prostate tissue cultures in order to gain a better understanding on how to inhibit this process for future clinical trials. IL6 significantly increased androgen-dependent AR activity in LNCaP cells but importantly did not influence AR activity at castrate androgen levels. To identify the underlying mechanism, we investigated several signaling pathways but only found IL6-dependent changes in STAT3 signaling. Biochemical inhibition of STAT3 with the small-molecule inhibitor galiellalactone significantly reduced AR activity in several prostate and breast cancer cell lines. We confirmed the efficacy of galiellalactone in primary tissue slice cultures from radical prostatectomy samples. Galiellalactone significantly reduced the expression of the AR target genes PSA (P < 0.001), TMPRSS2 (P < 0.001), and FKBP5 (P = 0.003) in benign tissue cultures (n = 24). However, a high heterogeneity in the response of the malignant samples was discovered, and only a subset of tissue samples (4 out of 10) had decreased PSA expression upon galiellalactone treatment. Taken together, this finding demonstrates that targeting the IL6/STAT3 pathway with galiellalactone is a viable option to decrease AR activity in prostate tissue that may be applied in a personalized medicine approach.

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