Background: Anti-androgen therapies suppress castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) but CRPC cells develop resistance. One of the mechanisms of resistance is through overexpression of androgen receptor (AR) and AR splice variants. In contrast to AR pathway inhibition therapies, recent clinical studies using bipolar androgen therapy demonstrated CRPC inhibition using supraphysiological levels of testosterone (SPT). The objective of this study was to investigate the mechanisms driving SPT-mediated tumor growth inhibition using CRPC patient-derived xenografts (PDX).

Methods: PDXs were implanted in castrated SCID mice and randomized to control or SPT arms. For enzalutamide-resistant (ENZR) PDX studies, mice with established tumors were treated with enzalutamide and randomized to control or SPT upon development of resistance. Tumors were monitored for growth and collected for analyses.

Results: In a SPT preclinical trial using thirteen LuCaP CRPC PDX models, four PDXs responded to SPT treatment while nine demonstrated de novo resistance. Our analysis revealed that responding PDXs had intrinsically higher AR and ARV7 expression compared to non-responding PDXs. Moreover, ARV7 expression was negatively correlated with E2F signaling and proliferation only in responding PDXs, suggesting that the ARV7 program functions differently in responder and non-responder phenotypes. Another PDX trial using ENZR PDXs determined that SPT inhibited the growth of LuCaP 35CR ENZR and LuCaP 96CR ENZR (responders), but not LuCaP 77CR ENZR (non-responder). Serum and intratumoral T were increased in both responders and the non-responder, suggesting that differential T delivery and tumoral retention were not the cause of differential tumor responses. Tumor analyses determined that SPT decreased AR transcript levels, however, nuclear AR protein levels and canonical AR signaling remained high in both responders and the non-responder. Conversely, ARV7 transcript was consistently decreased but the ARV7 program was downregulated only in responders. Additionally, an unbiased pathway analysis of RNASeq revealed that SPT drastically decreased genes associated with E2F-mediated cell cycle progression and proliferation and the DNA damage response (DDR) exclusively in responders. Further support for these pathways driving SPT-mediated tumor inhibition was demonstrated through the resolution of the suppressed ARV7/E2F1/DDR pathways in LuCaP 35CR ENZR upon acquiring SPT resistance, whereas the pathways remained suppressed in LuCaP 96CR ENZR, which exhibited a durable response to SPT.

Conclusion: Our data indicates that SPT therapy inhibits progression of a unique subset of ENZR CRPC and highlights critical roles for ARV7 signaling, DDR and E2F1-mediated proliferation in tumor inhibition.

Citation Format: Hung-Ming Lam, Mark P. Labrecque, Holly M. Nguyen, Lisha G. Brown, Ilsa M. Coleman, Roman Gulati, Bryce Lakely, Daniel Sondheim, Brett Marck, Alvin M. Matsumoto, Elahe A. Mostaghel, Michael T. Schweizer, Peter S. Nelson, Eva Corey. Supraphysiological testosterone inhibits tumor growth and is associated with inhibition of ARV7 signaling and DNA damage response in preclinical models of enzalutamide-resistant prostate cancer [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2019; 2019 Mar 29-Apr 3; Atlanta, GA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2019;79(13 Suppl):Abstract nr 379.