The normal development and maintenance of the prostate is dependent on androgen acting through the androgen receptor (AR). AR remains important in the development and progression of prostate cancer. AR expression is maintained throughout prostate cancer progression, and the majority of androgen-independent or hormone refractory prostate cancers express AR. Mutation of AR, especially mutations that result in a relaxation of AR ligand specificity, may contribute to the progression of prostate cancer and the failure of endocrine therapy by allowing AR transcriptional activation in response to antiandrogens or other endogenous hormones. Similarly, alterations in the relative expression of AR coregulators have been found to occur with prostate cancer progression and may contribute to differences in AR ligand specificity or transcriptional activity. Prostate cancer progression is also associated with increased growth factor production and an altered response to growth factors by prostate cancer cells. The kinase signal transduction cascades initiated by mitogenic growth factors modulate the transcriptional activity of AR and the interaction between AR and AR coactivators. The inhibition of AR activity through mechanisms in addition to androgen ablation, such as modulation of signal transduction pathways, may delay prostate cancer progression.
Heinlein CA, Chang C. Androgen receptor in prostate cancer. Endocr Rev. 2004 April George Whipple Laboratory for Cancer Research, Department of Pathology, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.