Prostate cancer is very frequent and is, in many countries, the third-leading cause of cancer-related death in men. While early diagnosis and treatment by surgical removal are often curative, metastasizing prostate cancer has a very bad prognosis. Based on the androgen dependence of prostate epithelial cells, the standard treatment is the blockade of the androgen receptor (AR). However, nearly all patients suffer from a tumor relapse as the metastasizing cells become AR-independent. In our study we show a counter-regulatory link between AR and NF-κB both in human cells and in mouse models of prostate cancer, implying that inhibition of AR signaling results in the induction of NF-κB-dependent inflammatory pathways, which may even foster the survival of metastasizing cells. This could be shown by reporter gene assays, DNA-binding measurements, and immune-fluorescence microscopy, and furthermore by a whole set of computational methods using a variety of datasets. Interestingly, loss of PTEN, a frequent genetic alteration in prostate cancer, also causes an upregulation of NF-κB and inflammatory activity. Finally, we present a mathematical model of a dynamic network between AR, NF-κB/IκB, PI3K/PTEN, and the oncogene c-Myc, which indicates that AR blockade may upregulate c-Myc together with NF-κB, and that combined anti-AR/anti-NF-κB and anti-PI3K treatment might be beneficial.
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