Adaptive phenotype drives resistance to androgen deprivation therapy in prostate cancer

Nicoletta Ferrari, Ilaria Granata, Matteo Capaia, Marina Piccirillo, Mario Rosario Guarracino, Roberta Venè, Antonella Brizzolara, Andrea Petretto, Elvira Inglese, Martina Morini, Simonetta Astigiano, Adriana Agnese Amaro, Francesco Boccardo, Cecilia Balbi, Paola Barboro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Prostate cancer (PCa), the second most common cancer affecting men worldwide, shows a broad spectrum of biological and clinical behaviour representing the epiphenomenon of an extreme heterogeneity. Androgen deprivation therapy is the mainstay of treatment for advanced forms but after few years the majority of patients progress to castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC), a lethal form that poses considerable therapeutic challenges.

METHODS: Western blotting, immunocytochemistry, invasion and reporter assays, and in vivo studies were performed to characterize androgen resistant sublines phenotype in comparison to the parental cell line LNCaP. RNA microarray, mass spectrometry, integrative transcriptomic and proteomic differential analysis coupled with GeneOntology and multivariate analyses were applied to identify deregulated genes and proteins involved in CRPC evolution.

RESULTS: Treating the androgen-responsive LNCaP cell line for over a year with 10 μM bicalutamide both in the presence and absence of 0.1 nM 5-α-dihydrotestosterone (DHT) we obtained two cell sublines, designated PDB and MDB respectively, presenting several analogies with CRPC. Molecular and functional analyses of PDB and MDB, compared to the parental cell line, showed that both resistant cell lines were PSA low/negative with comparable levels of nuclear androgen receptor devoid of activity due to altered phosphorylation; cell growth and survival were dependent on AKT and p38MAPK activation and PARP-1 overexpression; their malignant phenotype increased both in vitro and in vivo. Performing bioinformatic analyses we highlighted biological processes related to environmental and stress adaptation supporting cell survival and growth. We identified 15 proteins that could direct androgen-resistance acquisition. Eleven out of these 15 proteins were closely related to biological processes involved in PCa progression.

CONCLUSIONS: Our models suggest that environmental factors and epigenetic modulation can activate processes of phenotypic adaptation driving drug-resistance. The identified key proteins of these adaptive phenotypes could be eligible targets for innovative therapies as well as molecules of prognostic and predictive value.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51
JournalCell Communication and Signaling
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 8 2017


  • Journal Article


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