Metformin represses androgen-dependent and androgen-independent prostate cancers by targeting androgen receptor

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BACKGROUND Metformin has been reported to inhibit the growth of different types of cancers, including prostate cancer. We were interested to understand if the effect of metformin on prostate cancer is AR-dependent and, if so, whether metformin could act synergistically with the other anti-AR agents to serve as a therapeutic regimen with high efficacy and low toxicity.

METHODS Cell viabilities and apoptosis were determined by MTT assay and annexin V-FITC staining, respectively, when the two human prostate cancer cell lines, the androgen-dependent LNCaP and the androgen-independent 22RV1 were treated with metformin alone or in combination with bicalutamide. Quantitative RT-PCR and western blotting assays were conducted to examine metformin effects on AR mRNA and protein levels, respectively. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays were conducted to confirm the recruitment of AR to the ARE(s) located on the promoter region of the AR target gene PSA.

RESULTS Metformin treatment reduced cell viability and enhanced apoptosis for both cell lines and additive effects were observed when LNCaP cells were treated with combined metformin and bicalutamide. Metformin down-regulated full-length AR protein in LNCaP cells. Both full-length and the truncated AR (AR-v7) were down-regulated by metformin in CWR22Rv1 cells. In both LNCaP and CWR22Rv1 cells, metformin repressed AR signaling pathway not by affecting AR protein degradation/stability, but rather through down-regulating the levels of AR mRNAs.

CONCLUSIONS Metformin represses prostate cancer cell viability and enhances apoptosis by targeting the AR signaling pathway. Combinations of metformin and other anti-AR agents pose a potentially promising therapeutic approach for treatment of prostate cancers, especially the castrate-resistant prostate cancer, with high efficacy and low toxicity.

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The Prostate


This article was published online in The Prostate, April 2015.

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