Like prostate cancer, bladder cancer patients may benefit from anti-androgen therapy

September 24, 2012

Bladder cancer patients whose tumors express high levels of the protein CD24 have worse prognoses than patients with lower CD24. A University of Colorado Cancer Center study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that CD24 expression may depend on androgens – and that anti-androgen therapies like those currently used to treat prostate cancer may benefit bladder cancer patients.

"This is a major finding – development and spread to other organs depends significantly on CD24, which in turn depends on androgens like testosterone. By taking away these androgens, we may be able to greatly diminish the proliferative and metastatic power of bladder ," says the study's senior author, Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, director of the University of Colorado Cancer Center.

Theodorescu and colleagues started with mouse models, showing that mice without the ability to make the protein CD24 had fewer primary bladder tumors and metastases ( spread to other organs) compared to mice with CD24 intact. This effect was most marked in male mice. The group moved to human tumor samples, showing that when patients were stratified according to the levels of CD24 expressed in their tumors, especially the male patients had poorer outcomes, including higher rates of relapse and shorter disease-free survival.

"To us, these sex-specific findings implied androgen involvement," Theodorescu says. Sure enough, when the group knocked down in human bladder cancer cell lines, they saw a corresponding drop in CD24 levels and also decreased cell proliferation. When they artificially added CD24, resumed regardless of androgen levels. In essence, androgen is effectively a hormonal switch that allowed the harmful effect of CD24 to flow.

Together, these finding imply not only a correlative but a causative effect of CD24 – that not only do high levels of CD24 mark more aggressive bladder tumors, but that CD24 in fact drives the aggressiveness of these tumors. While the protein CD24 is difficult to affect directly with current therapies, anti-androgen therapies that would diminish the tumor's ability to express CD24 are already in wide use for prostate cancer.

"We hope the results of these studies show the rationale for clinical studies of anti-androgen therapies with bladder cancer, especially in those tumors that happen to test markedly high in CD24 expression," Theodorescu says. "The next step is moving this promising therapy to clinical trials with human patients."

Explore further: Lack of oxygen in cancer cells leads to growth and metastasis

Related Stories

Lack of oxygen in cancer cells leads to growth and metastasis

September 13, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—It seems as if a tumor deprived of oxygen would shrink. However, numerous studies have shown that tumor hypoxia, in which portions of the tumor have significantly low oxygen concentrations, is in fact linked ...

Scientists identify overactive genes in aggressive breast cancers

June 1, 2011
Scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have identified an overactive network of growth-spurring genes that drive stem-like breast cancer cells enriched in triple-negative breast tumors, a typically aggressive cancer that ...

Major study stops bladder cancer from metastasizing to lungs

March 12, 2012
The diagnosis of localized bladder cancer carries an 80 percent five-year survival rate, but once the cancer spreads, the survival rate at even three years is only 20 percent. A major study published today in the Journal ...

Protein RAL associated with aggressive characteristics in prostate, bladder and skin cancers

May 17, 2012
We have known for years that when the proteins RalA and RalB are present, cells in dishes copy toward aggressive forms of cancer. However, until this week, no study had explored the effects of RAL proteins in human cancers ...

Recommended for you

Vitamin C may encourage blood cancer stem cells to die

August 17, 2017
Vitamin C may "tell" faulty stem cells in the bone marrow to mature and die normally, instead of multiplying to cause blood cancers. This is the finding of a study led by researchers from Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone ...

Scientists develop novel immunotherapy technology for prostate cancer

August 17, 2017
A study led by scientists at The Wistar Institute describes a novel immunotherapeutic strategy for the treatment of cancer based on the use of synthetic DNA to directly encode protective antibodies against a cancer specific ...

Outdoor light at night linked with increased breast cancer risk in women

August 17, 2017
Women who live in areas with higher levels of outdoor light at night may be at higher risk for breast cancer than those living in areas with lower levels, according to a large long-term study from Harvard T.H. Chan School ...

Toxic formaldehyde is produced inside our own cells, scientists discover

August 16, 2017
New research has revealed that some of the toxin formaldehyde in our bodies does not come from our environment - it is a by-product of an essential reaction inside our own cells. This could provide new targets for developing ...

Cell cycle-blocking drugs can shrink tumors by enlisting immune system in attack on cancer

August 16, 2017
In the brief time that drugs known as CDK4/6 inhibitors have been approved for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer, doctors have made a startling observation: in certain patients, the drugs—designed to halt cancer ...

Researchers find 'switch' that turns on immune cells' tumor-killing ability

August 16, 2017
Molecular biologists led by Leonid Pobezinsky and his wife and research collaborator Elena Pobezinskaya at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have published results that for the first time show how a microRNA molecule ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.