AR-v7 liquid biopsy for treatment stratification in prostate cancer: how close are we?

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Purpose of review

Recent clinical introduction of the novel antiandrogen, Enzalutamide (Enza), CYP17 inhibitor, Abiraterone (Abi), and the second-generation chemotherapeutic, Cabazitaxel, has increased survival of patients with advanced, metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC). However, de novo and acquired resistance rates are high. A liquid biopsy that can rapidly, sensitively and robustly identify which patients will respond to treatment in a minimally invasive manner is urgently required to permit switch to a potentially more efficacious drug regimen, thus increasing survival whilst avoiding debilitating side effects associated with unnecessary treatment. This review will highlight recent developments in detection of AR-v7 in circulating mRNA/whole blood and circulating tumour cells (CTCs) as a liquid biopsy for patient-stratification in mCRPC.

Recent findings

Continued androgen receptor (AR) activity in mCRPC has been linked to the expression of a number of truncated but constitutively active AR isoforms. One such variant, AR-v7, can drive drug resistance in preclinical models and is correlated with disease progression whilst showing dynamic response to AR-targeting treatments when assessed in blood. It has thus been proposed as an Abi/Enza treatment-response biomarker.


AR-v7 liquid biopsy has the potential to transform clinical management of mCRPC and increase patient survival. This review will explore recent efforts to validate AR-v7 as a robust, clinically informative biomarker. I will also address potential limitations of detection and quantification that could frustrate its adoption into routine clinical practise.

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