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Sci Transl Med. 2010 May 19;2(32):32ra35. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3001143.

Androgen receptor promotes hepatitis B virus-induced hepatocarcinogenesis through modulation of hepatitis B virus RNA transcription.

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Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan 701, Taiwan.


Hepatitis B virus (HBV)-induced hepatitis and carcinogen-induced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are associated with serum androgen concentration. However, how androgen or the androgen receptor (AR) contributes to HBV-induced hepatocarcinogenesis remains unclear. We found that hepatic AR promotes HBV-induced hepatocarcinogenesis in HBV transgenic mice that lack AR only in the liver hepatocytes (HBV-L-AR(-/y)). HBV-L-AR(-/y) mice that received a low dose of the carcinogen N'-N'-diethylnitrosamine (DEN) have a lower incidence of HCC and present with smaller tumor sizes, fewer foci formations, and less alpha-fetoprotein HCC marker than do their wild-type HBV-AR(+/y) littermates. We found that hepatic AR increases the HBV viral titer by enhancing HBV RNA transcription through direct binding to the androgen response element near the viral core promoter. This activity forms a positive feedback mechanism with cooperation with its downstream target gene HBx protein to promote hepatocarcinogenesis. Administration of a chemical compound that selectively degrades AR, ASC-J9, was able to suppress HCC tumor size in DEN-HBV-AR(+/y) mice. These results demonstrate that targeting the AR, rather than the androgen, could be developed as a new therapy to battle HBV-induced HCC.

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