Emergence of Androgen Independence at Early Stages of Prostate Cancer Progression inNkx3.1; PtenMice
Although androgen deprivation therapy is a widely used treatment for patients with advanced prostate cancer, it ultimately results in the emergence of a hormone-refractory disease that is invariably fatal. To provide insights into the genesis of this disease, we have employed an in vivo model to investigate how and when prostate epithelial cells can acquire the ability to survive and proliferate in the absence of androgens. In particular, we have been studying the evolution of androgen
... f androgen independence in Nkx3.1; Pten mutant mice, which develop prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia and adenocarcinoma as a consequence of aging, as well as androgenindependent phenotypes following castration. We now find that the prostate epithelial cells from these Nkx3.1; Pten mutant mice are capable of surviving and proliferating in the absence of androgens and that they develop androgenindependent phenotypes well before they display overt prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia or cancer phenotypes. Our findings in this mouse model show that acquisition of androgen independence can be uncoupled from overt cancer progression and raise the possibility that hormone-refractory disease can arise at early stages of prostate carcinogenesis.