Steroid sulfatase stimulates intracrine androgen synthesis and is a therapeutic target for advanced prostate cancer

Cameron M. Armstrong, Chengfei Liu, Liangren Liu, Joy C. Yang, Wei Lou, Ruining Zhao, Shu Ning, Alan P. Lombard, Jinge Zhao, Leandro S. D'Abronzo, Christopher P. Evans, Pui Kai Li, Allen C. Gao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: Most patients with prostate cancer receiving enzalutamide or abiraterone develop resistance. Clinical evidence indicates that serum levels of dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) and biologically active DHEA remain in the high range despite antiandrogen treatment. The conversion of DHEAS into DHEA by steroid sulfatase (STS) may contribute to sustained intracrine androgen synthesis. Here, we determine the contribution of STS to treatment resistance and explore the potential of targeting STS to overcome resistance in prostate cancer. Experimental Design: STS expression was examined in patients and cell lines. In vitro, STS activity and expression were modulated using STS-specific siRNA or novel STS inhibitors (STSi). Cell growth, colony formation, androgen production, and gene expression were examined. RNA-sequencing analysis was conducted on VCaP cells treated with STSi. Mice were treated with STSis with or without enzalutamide to determine their effects in vivo. Results: STS is overexpressed in patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) and resistant cells. STS overexpression increases intracrine androgen synthesis, cell proliferation, and confers resistance to enzalutamide and abiraterone. Inhibition of STS using siRNA suppresses prostate cancer cell growth. Targeting STS activity using STSi inhibits STS activity, suppresses androgen receptor transcriptional activity, and reduces the growth of resistant C4-2B and VCaP prostate cancer cells. STSis significantly suppress resistant VCaP tumor growth, decrease serum PSA levels, and enhance enzalutamide treatment in vitro and in vivo. Conclusions: These studies suggest that STS drives intracrine androgen synthesis and prostate cancer proliferation. Targeting STS represents a therapeutic strategy to treat CRPC and improve second-generation antiandrogen therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6064-6074
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 15 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Steroid sulfatase stimulates intracrine androgen synthesis and is a therapeutic target for advanced prostate cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this