Abiraterone inhibits 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase: A rationale for increasing drug exposure in castration-resistant prostate cancer

Rui Li, Kristen Evaul, Kamalesh K. Sharma, Kai Hsiung Chang, Jennifer Yoshimoto, Jiayan Liu, Richard J. Auchus, Nima Sharifi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Purpose: Treatment with abiraterone (abi) acetate prolongs survival in castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). Resistance to abi invariably occurs, probably due in part to upregulation of steroidogenic enzymes and/or other mechanisms that sustain dihydrotestosterone (DHT) synthesis, which raises the possibility of reversing resistance by concomitant inhibition of other required steroidogenic enzymes. On the basis of the 3β-hydroxyl, Δ 5-structure, we hypothesized that abi also inhibits 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase/isomerase (3βHSD), which is absolutely required for DHT synthesis in CRPC, regardless of origins or routes of synthesis. Experimental Design: We tested the effects of abi on 3bHSD activity, androgen receptor localization, expression of androgen receptor-responsive genes, and CRPC growth in vivo. Results: Abi inhibits recombinant 3βHSD activity in vitro and endogenous 3βHSD activity in LNCaP and LAPC4 cells, including conversion of [ 3H]-dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) to Δ 4-androstenedione, androgen receptor nuclear translocation, expression of androgen receptor-responsive genes, and xenograft growth in orchiectomized mice supplemented with DHEA. Abi also blocks conversion of Δ 5-androstenediol to testosterone by 3βHSD. Abi inhibits 3βHSD1 and 3βHSD2 enzymatic activity in vitro; blocks conversion from DHEA to androstenedione and DHT with an IC 50 value of less than 1 μmol/L in CRPC cell lines; inhibits androgen receptor nuclear translocation; expression of TMPRSS2, prostate-specific antigen, and FKBP5; and decreases CRPC xenograft growth in DHEA-supplemented mice. Conclusions: We conclude that abi inhibits 3βHSD-mediated conversion of DHEA to active androgens in CRPC. This second mode of action might be exploited to reverse resistance to CYP17A1 inhibition at the standard abi dose by dose-escalation or simply by administration with food to increase drug exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3571-3579
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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