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J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1993 Mar;44(4-6):565-72.

Atamestane: an aromatase inhibitor for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia. A short review.

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  • 1Berlex Laboratories, Inc., Wayne, NJ 07470.


Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is the most common neoplastic growth in men and is the most frequent cause of urinary flow obstruction at the bladder neck. In addition to the clear evidence in favor of the androgen dependency of BPH, the involvement of the stroma, stromal-epithelial interaction and the role of estrogens have gained much interest in connection with the pathogenesis of this disease. For this reason, specific aromatase inhibitors such as atamestane (1-methyl-1,4-androstadiene-3,17-dione) have recently attracted attention due to their potential use in the treatment of BPH. The pharmacological action of atamestane as a new competitive and irreversible inhibitor of estrogen biosynthesis has been evaluated in mice, rats, rabbits, dogs, monkeys and in man. In all species tested so far, atamestane lacks other intrinsic hormonal or antihormonal activities and shows no inhibition of other cytochrome-P450 dependent enzymes of adrenal steroidogenesis. However, it inhibits the estrogen-related negative feed-back. The extent and consequence of the induced counter-regulation of the pituitary-hypothalamic axis show major sex- and species-specific differences. In BPH animal models, atamestane is highly effective in inhibiting estrogen-induced hyperplastic changes in the fibromuscular stroma of the prostate in androstenedione-treated dogs and monkeys. In male volunteers and BPH patients, atamestane induces an expected dose-dependent reduction of serum estrogen concentrations with slight increases in androgen level. In conclusion, all available results indicate that atamestane is a selective (no inhibition of adrenal function), pure (= specific--no endocrine side-effects) and highly effective steroidal aromatase inhibitor with excellent safety profile. Based on our preliminary results aromatase inhibitors seem to be promising compounds for the treatment of BPH.

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