Current advances in intratumoral androgen metabolism in castration-resistant prostate cancer

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Purpose of review

Androgen deprivation therapy is a cornerstone in the treatment of advanced prostate cancer and has extended the lives of countless patients. Unfortunately, many of these patients eventually succumb to metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC). The efficacy of abiraterone acetate (AA, Zytiga) and enzalutamide (Enza, Xtandi) in the mCRPC setting prove that these tumors remain androgen-driven. We review recent studies that have shown that intratumoral androgen biosynthesis plays a significant role in the ever-evolving mCRPC tumor and we discuss the therapeutic implications of these findings.

Recent findings

A novel abiraterone metabolite, 17-(pyridin-3-yl)androsta-4,16-dien-3-one (D4A), possesses robust antitumor activity in rodent models via the inhibition of androgen biosynthetic enzymes and antagonism of the androgen receptor. The TMPRSS2 : ERG fusion drives aldo–keto reductase 1C3 (AKR1C3) expression and activity to facilitate androgen biosynthesis and activate the androgen receptor in prostate cancer. Intracrine androgen formation and AKR1C3 expression and activity have been found to confer resistance to enzalutamide.


These studies highlight the significant role that intratumoral androgen biosynthesis plays in the mCRPC tumor. The therapeutic implications include the inhibition of AKR1C3 in tumors that become resistant to current drugs such as abiraterone acetate or Enza and the potential administration of D4A as an mCRPC therapeutic.

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