GnRH antagonists have direct inhibitory effects on castration-resistant prostate cancer via intracrine androgen and AR-V7 expression

Vito Cucchiara, Joy C. Yang, Chengfei Liu, Hans H. Adomat, Emma S. Tomlinson Guns, Martin E. Gleave, Allen C. Gao, Christopher P. Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Hormone therapy is currently the mainstay in the management of locally advanced and metastatic prostate cancer. Degarelix (Firmagon), a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) receptor antagonist differs from luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) agonists by avoiding "testosterone flare" and lower follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels. The direct effect of degarelix and leuprolide on human prostate cancer cells was evaluated. In LNCaP, C4-2BMDVR, and CWR22Rv1 cells, degarelix significantly reduced cell viability compared with the controls (P ≤ 0.01). Leuprolide was stimulatory in the same cell lines. In C4-2B MDVR cells, degarelix alone or combined with abiraterone or enzalutamide reduced the AR-V7 protein expression compared with the control group. SCID mice bearing VCaP xenograft tumors were divided into 4 groups and treated with surgical castration, degarelix, leuprolide, or buffer alone for 4 weeks. Leuprolide slightly suppressed tumor growth compared with the vehicle control group (P > 0.05). Tumors in degarelix-treated mice were 67% of those in the leuprolide-treatment group but 170% larger than in surgically castrated ones. Measurements of intratumoral steroids in serum, tumor samples, or treated cell pellets by LC/MS confirmed that degarelix better decreased the levels of testosterone and steroidogenesis pathway intermediates, comparable to surgical castration, whereas leuprolide had no inhibitory effect. Collectively, our results suggested a selective mechanism of action of degarelix against androgen steroidogenesis and AR-variants. This study provides additional molecular insights regarding the mechanism of degarelix compared with GnRH agonist therapy, which may have clinical implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1811-1821
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Cancer Therapeutics
Issue number10
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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