As a public health problem, prostate cancer engenders huge economic and life-quality burden. Developing effective chemopreventive regimens to alleviate the burden remains a major challenge. Androgen signaling is vital to the development and progression of prostate cancer. Targeting androgen signaling via blocking the production of the potent ligand dihydrotestosterone has been shown to decrease prostate cancer incidence. However, the potential of increasing the incidence of high-grade prostate cancers has been a concern. Mechanisms of disease progression after the intervention may include increased expression of androgen receptor (AR) in prostate tissue and expression of the constitutively active AR splice variants (AR-Vs) lacking the ligand-binding domain. Thus, novel agents targeting the receptor, preferentially both the full-length and AR-Vs, are urgently needed. In the present study, we show that ginsenoside 20(S)-protopanaxadiol-aglycone (PPD) effectively downregulates the expression and activity of both the full-length AR and AR-Vs. The effects of PPD on AR and AR-Vs are manifested by an immediate drop in proteins followed by a reduction in transcripts, attributed to PPD induction of proteasome-mediated degradation and inhibition of the transcription of the AR gene. We further show that although PPD inhibits the growth as well as AR expression and activity in LNCaP xenograft tumors, the morphology and AR expression in normal prostates are not affected. This study is the first to show that PPD suppresses androgen signaling through downregulating both the full-length AR and AR-Vs, and provides strong rationale for further developing PPD as a promising agent for the prevention and/or treatment of prostate cancer.What's new?
This is the first report on 20(S)-protopanaxadiol-aglycone as an effective agent to downregulate the expression and activity of the full-length androgen receptor and its constitutively-active splice variants in prostate cancer. It is also the first to show the in vivo efficacy of 20(S)-protopanaxadiol-aglycone against androgen-receptor-expressing prostate tumors. Considering the critical roles of androgen receptor and its splice variants in disease progression, our findings suggest that 20(S)-protopanaxadiol-aglycone is a promising agent for prostate cancer intervention.